After being accused of rape, Canadian director and Oscar winner Paul Haggis (69) has to pay a press agent at least 7.5 million dollars (around 7.4 million euros) in damages.
In the civil trial that lasted several weeks before a court in New York, the jury, consisting of four men and two women, came to this verdict, as reported by US media. The total amount could increase by an additional penalty, the court wanted to discuss this in the coming week.
The 36-year-old filed the lawsuit against the "L.A. Crash" director in 2017. The plaintiff alleged that Haggis sexually assaulted and raped her at his New York home after a movie party in 2013. Haggis did not deny the encounter in court, but emphasized that all actions were consensual.
This was a "great victory" for his client and for the entire MeToo movement, said the plaintiff's lawyer, Ilann M. Maazel, according to "People.com". Haggis' attorney Priya Chaudhry said she was "disappointed and shocked" by the verdict. The director did not receive a fair trial.
Several women testified
During the approximately three-week trial, several other women took the stand as witnesses who described alleged sexual assaults by Haggis between 1996 and 2015. It was only in the summer that the filmmaker had to deal with allegations of sexual assault in Italy.
In Los Angeles, former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein (70) and actor Danny Masterson (46) are currently on trial in two criminal cases for sexual assault. Allegations by dozens of women against Weinstein, published in the fall of 2017 by the New York Times and New Yorker magazine, were the beginning of the MeToo movement. In 2020, the producer was convicted in New York as a sex offender and now Weinstein faces further charges in California, including rape. He always denied his guilt, Weinstein claimed the sexual acts were consensual.
Haggis won Oscars for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture Producer for the episodic drama LA Crash in 2006. He also wrote the screenplays for hit films such as "Million Dollar Baby" and the "James Bond" films "Casino Royale" and "Quantum of Solace".