Four women have come forward to accuse Paul Haggis of sexual misconduct, including rape, according to the Associated Press. The 64-year-old, who wrote both Million Dollar Baby and Crash, was already being sued by a publicist for an alleged rape in 2013 when three more alleged victims came forward to say they had been abused by him as well.
The lawsuit filed on December 15 claims that Haggis offered then-28-year-old Haleigh Breest a ride home after a film premiere, then drove her back to his apartment in Manhattan. According to the complaint, he invited Breest up for a drink and then allegedly ripped her tights off, forced her to perform oral sex, and raped her as she said "No." Haggis has already countersued and said that victim's ask of $9 million amounted to extortion.
After hearing about the civil suit, three more women came forward to report similar abuse from Haggis to Breest's lawyer and recounted their experiences to the AP. One of the women interviewed said she was also a 28-year-old publicist who had been raped by Haggis. She claims that in 1996, she was working on one of his TV shows when he showed up to her office after hours one night and started forcibly kissing her.
"I just pulled away. He was just glaring at me and came at me again," she told the AP. "I was really resisting. He said to me, 'Do you really want to continue working?'"
She said he then made her perform oral sex before pushing her to the ground and raping her.
A third accuser said that in 2000 she went to pitch Haggis a television show at his office, when he started to talk about wanting to have extramarital affairs. She claims he then tried to kiss her before she could run away. A fourth woman said that in 2015, when she was in her late 20s, Haggis forcibly kissed her, jumped into the taxi she tried to escape in, and then harassed her with text messages for 24 hours after she got inside her house.
Haggis—who worked on films that won Best Picture at the Oscars in 2005 and 2006—has said through his lawyer that he "didn’t rape anybody." As the AP points out, he recently spoke to the Guardian about the #MeToo movement and Harvey Weinstein in favour of the so-called reckoning.
"A lot of people are compromised by Harvey’s alleged actions," he said in October. "Although everyone thinks it is vile behaviour, you have got to focus on those who may have colluded and protected him. For me, they are as guilty as he is and in some cases more so, if I can say that. I mean, he was a predator and a predator is a predator. But what about those who would rather look the other way?"
Follow Allie Conti on Twitter.