AceShowbiz - Paul Haggis says he was "scared" and "humiliated" by "terrible false allegations" of sexual assault. Four anonymous women have testified in support of his accuser, claiming they were also subjected to similar ordeals by the Oscar-winning filmmaker as he is being sued by Haleigh Breest, who has alleged he raped her in 2013.
"I'm scared because I don't know why women or anyone would lie about things like this, make up or twist the truth. I don't know," he said in his second day of testimony on Thursday, November 3. "To see my daughters sitting in the courtroom right now, my son and my family, I'm humiliated by these false allegations."
One woman testified that Haggis had raped her in the Toronto production office of his TV show "Due South" in 1996, but the filmmaker argued he was already back in Los Angeles then. A second female claimed she fled Haggis' Santa Monica film production headquarters in 2008 after he told her, "I want to be inside you."
The "Crash" director insisted he actually said, "I want to sit beside you," and his only mistake had been "oversharing" about his personal life and self-image before moving to sit closer. He told the court he had walked the woman out to her car, where they said a friendly goodbye, while she testified they had stayed in touch and she sought his help with a US work visa.
The third woman to give evidence accused the director of luring her back to his hotel suite in Alberta in 2008 with the false promise of an afterparty following a film and TV festival. She claimed he tried to kiss her before following her out of the building and groping her breasts by a taxi stand.
Haggis insisted the party guests arrived eventually and said, "It's just absolutely not true. If I was going to touch her breasts [I had] ample opportunity to do that if I chose to do so [in the suite]."
A fourth woman's account dated back to 2015, and she said Haggis had tried to force himself on her outside her Toronto apartment building but stopped when a passer-by heard her screaming. She claimed she had got out of a cab and the director followed her, throwing cash at the driver.
But the "Million Dollar Baby" writer said he wasn't carrying cash and showed jurors a credit card bill with an item he claimed covered that fare, adding it took a few minutes to process the payment and the woman waited patiently for him to finish.
The 69-year-old director was close to tears as he objected to the fourth woman's "vile" claim he had branded his ex-wife, Deborah Rennard, a "b****" and told her about their sex life. He said, "She's my best friend. She's stood by me. I never called her that."
Haggis will be cross-examined by Breest's lawyer on Friday, November 4, and Judge Sabrina Kraus told jurors to expect closing arguments on Monday, November 7.