Oscar-winning director, writer and producer Paul Haggis filed a lawsuit on Friday against Manhattan publicist Haleigh Breest, claiming she was threatening to go public with an alleged fake story of him sexually assaulting her.
According to the lawsuit as reported by the New York Daily News, the publicist accused him of committing an act of "gender violence" five years ago, and that she was demanding $9 million in hush money.
“The clear goal of [the woman’s] demand for such an absurd amount of money from [Haggis] is to scare him into giving this windfall to her to avoid his public hanging,” the lawsuit said.
Haggis said in the lawsuit that he has known the woman for years, but the alleged act of violence never happened.
Haggis said he is supportive of victims of sexual assault and misconduct being given a voice.
“However, on the darker side, this maelstrom of media attention, coupled with the immediate guilty verdict from the court of public opinion and the utter and complete damnation of anyone accused of any sexual misconduct, has created an opportunity for persons whose motives and intentions are not so pure, and who are looking for a ride on this cultural wave to take advantage of a person at the center of this narrative,” the lawsuit said.
Haggis is a two-time Academy Award winner and two-time Emmy Award winner, with a filmography that includes Crash (director, screenwriter and producer), Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers and Casino Royale.
Photo: Instagram / @ PaulHaggis