Oscar winner Paul Haggis was ordered Monday to pay an additional $2.5 million in damages in a rape lawsuit, bringing the total to $10 million for a woman who said he sexually assaulted her nearly a decade ago.
While attorneys for plaintiff Haleigh Breest called the verdict fair, Haggis insisted he was falsely accused and was financially ruined fighting the civil suit. He promised to appeal.
“I can’t live with these lies. I will die clearing my name,” he said as he left the courtroom.
Breest, a publicist who has publicly identified herself in the case, said Haggis raped her and forced her to perform oral sex in his New York apartment on Jan. 31, 2013. She says they had a consensual encounter.
A jury last week sided with Breest, awarding her $7.5 million in compensatory damages and deciding she is also entitled to punitive damages.
Jurors returned to court Monday to hear testimony about Haggis’ finances and decide how much more he will have to pay.
They were given a crash course in film financing as Haggis was quizzed about his earnings on films such as Best Picture Oscar winners Crash and Million Dollar Baby and James Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.
While explaining the complexities of screenwriting fees, he estimated that over his four decades in television and film, he earned as much as $25 million, before taxes, fees to agents and other representatives, and property splits with his two ex-wives.
The 69-year-old director said during Monday’s hearing that he had suffered various financial losses over the years, but that Breest’s lawsuit had wiped him out. He said his legal bills topped $2.6 million while his career suddenly dried up.
“I spent all the money I had available. “I destroyed my pension plan, I lived on loans, to pay for this case in a very naive belief in justice,” he said outside court.
Breest’s lawyers questioned Haggis’ claims that he was broke.
“Nothing Paul Haggis says can be trusted,” said attorney Ilann Maazel.
After the verdict, he said the jury “did the right thing.” The jurors left the courtroom without comment.
Breest, 36, said she suffered professional and psychological damage as a result of what happened after she accepted an invitation for drinks at his apartment after the film’s premiere. She declined to comment on Monday.
In a statement after Thursday’s initial verdict, she said she appreciated “the opportunity to seek justice and accountability in court — and that the jury chose to follow the facts — and believed me.”
She sued for unspecified damages. Haggis has not been criminally charged in the case.