Washington [US]: On Thursday, a former freelance television producer testified that Paul Haggis assaulted and attempted to rape her at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.
According to Variety, Jurors in a lower Manhattan courtroom watched a video deposition of the woman from 2019, who recalled feeling physically and emotionally threatened at the time of their encounter.
Variety further reported that the woman claimed that Haggis, the Oscar-winning writer and director of ‘Crash,’ sexually pursued her before she fled into her apartment building following the TIFF event.
Variety quoted her testimony – “It made me feel like he was somebody not only to be emotionally feared, he was somebody to be physically feared,” she said.
She added, “my personal well-being was in jeopardy. It was a terrifying feeling.”
Paul Haggis was under police detention in a hotel in southern Italy since June after an unnamed British woman told police that the director twice had non-consensual sex with her while he was in Italy to participate in an arts festival in the tourist town of Ostuni.
Haggis originally came to Italy to attend the Allora Fest film festival, which he was involved in organising and where he was due to hold a number of masterclasses when the anonymous complainant flew in to join him.
After her police complaint and Haggis’s subsequent arrest came to light the festival went ahead without the director earlier this month, as per Variety.
Haggis is also facing a court case in the United States, where he is being sued by film publicist Haleigh Breest, who alleges Haggis raped her in January 2013.
Breest originally filed the lawsuit in December 2017, although proceedings were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
So far, four more women, all of whom prefer anonymity, have accused Haggis of assault.
Attorneys for Breest are attempting to prove that Haggis’ alleged rape of Breest is part of a pattern of behaviour.