It may be a new year, but the #MeToo movement is still with us. The latest scalp: screenwriter/director Paul Haggis, whose film “Crash” won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2006.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a civil lawsuit alleges that Haggis raped two women and performed lewdly in front of two others.
Speaking with AP, one of the women said how Haggis allegedly assaulted her. “I need to be inside you,” she recalled him saying before running away.
“Another of the new accusers said Haggis held down her arms, forcibly kissed her on a street corner, then followed her into a taxi. She said she later escaped his clutches,” reports THR.
Christine Lepera, attorney for the 64-year-old screenwriter, says that Haggis denies the accusations. “He didn’t rape anybody,” said Lepera.
“Haggis has denied the original rape allegation in an extortion lawsuit filed against that woman, and said she and her lawyer had demanded a $9 million payment to avoid legal action,” reports THR.
In separate interviews with the AP, the women said the incidents happened between 1996 and 2015 when they were just starting their careers in entertainment. Similar to the Weinstein allegations, Haggis allegedly lured them to private places to discuss business before he sprang into action by trying to kiss them. The two women who fought back allege that Haggis escalated the aggression as they tried to run.
One accuser claims she was a 28-year-old publicist working on a television show produced by Haggis when he raped her after hours at the office.
“He was just glaring at me and came at me again,” said the accuser, who remained anonymous. “I was really resisting. He said to me, ‘Do you really want to continue working?'” the woman said. “And then he really forced himself on me. I was just numb. I didn’t know what to do.”
AP spoke with a friend of the accuser who claims that she told him/her about the incident several weeks later.
As the #MeToo movement swept across Hollywood this past October, Haggis gave an interview with The Guardian in which he said that while he did not believe sexual assault was widespread in the industry, he did feel it was a “fairly sexist” town.
“A lot of people are compromised by Harvey’s alleged actions,” said Haggis. “Although everyone thinks it is vile behavior, 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?”