Another alleged victim takes to the stand in the trial of director Paul Haggis.
Deadline reports the woman is one of four that lawyers for plaintiff Haleigh Breest are calling to the stand to testify for claims of similar incidents of attempted sexual assault.
During her testimony, she said she met the “Crash” director during the 2006 Banff World Television Festival where he was attending as the keynote speaker. The woman was at the festival as part of a prize fellowship to make connection and pitch documentary projects. She is no longer working in the field.
“He had won two Oscars recently and that was big deal for a Canadian filmmaker,” the filmmaker said.
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She sought out Haggis at a pub after listening to a Q&A from him as part of an event where attendees were able to speak to him one-on-one. After chatting for a while, the director invited her to an afterparty at the festival’s hotel headquarters.
“It sounded like a great opportunity,” she recalled. After getting into a cab with him, however, she realized the impression she must’ve been given the other attendees.
”I said I hope nobody got the wrong impression,” she testified. “He said, ‘People usually do.’”
During the cab ride, Haggis seemed to be texting to confirm the location of the party, and took her to a room at the end of a long hallway when they arrived at the hotel.
“I was immediately apprehensive,” she explained, stepping back from the door when he attempted to reassure her.
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“Don’t worry,” he allegedly said, claiming the party would take place in his room and others were en route to join them.
He offered her wine and when she approached him to take the glass, she said he kissed her.
“I was totally caught off guard,” she said. “I said I’m so sorry if I gave you mixed signals. I’m here for professional reasons.”
The director brushed off the incident and suggested they sit by the couch to chat about her career, but after about 20 minutes attempted to kiss her again. The woman said she attempted to back away, but found herself backed into a wall when he then grabbed her wrists and tried to kiss her.
“Mr. Haggis used his left hand to grab my face,” she said, adding that Haggis said, “Cut it out. You’re making me feel like an asshole.”
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The young filmmaker finally managed to leave the room after which the director called after her, offering to pay for her cab fare home. She accepted and when it arrived, she said he grabbed her breasts from behind, kissed her neck, and shoved her into the car.
“I felt humiliated. I felt gross. I felt stupid. I just wanted to get out of there,” the woman testified. She added she “felt stupid” because she believed people were still coming despite a lot of time passing without any signs.
The plaintiff Breest accused the Oscar-winning director of raping her in 2013 when she was working as an events publicist.