A Manhattan judge said “Million Dollar Baby” screenwriter Paul Haggis must face a civil rape lawsuit by a publicist after hearing a graphic account of the alleged assaults.
“What Mr. Haggis did is forcibly removed her clothing, forcibly kissed her, forcibly penetrated her vagina,” an attorney for Haleigh Breest said in Manhattan Supreme Court Thursday.
“I understand,” Justice Robert Reed responded.
Haggis said to Breest, “You’re nice and tight,” while forcing himself on her at his Mercer St. apt. in 2013, her lawyer Zoe Salzman recounted.
“You’ve been asking for it because you’ve been flirting with me for months,” Haggis allegedly said to Breest.
The Oscar Award-winning filmmaker wanted the case tossed arguing that Breest had attempted to extort him for a $9 million in hush money before filing suit. He has denied the claims.
But Judge Reed said dismissing Breest’s case “would serve as a chill on the ability of” sexual assault victims to get justice, even in the form of “outrageous settlement demands.”
Instead he allowed Breest’s suit to proceed while nixing Haggis’ counterclaim for emotional distress.
Haggis, who won back-to-back Oscars for “Million Dollar Baby” and “Crash,” first sued Breest in December claiming her “outrageous threats” of exposing him as a rapist caused “crippling anxiety.”
She countersued hours later for assault and “gender-motivated violence.”
Judge Reed said any emotional distress suffered by Haggis’ was caused when his lawyers informed him of the $9 million settlement demand.
The judge also allowed discovery on three more anonymous women who claim they were also sexually assaulted by Haggis. But he said Breest would have to tell Haggis’ lawyers their identities for their allegations to remain in the suit.
Judge Reed ruled that the filmmaker’s alleged “pattern and practice [of] animus towards women…need to be explored in discovery.”
The next court hearing is in October.