Documentary Filmmaker Testifies Oscar Winner Paul Haggis Assaulted Her at Film Festival: ‘I Felt Humiliated’

A former documentary filmmaker testified that Paul Haggis assaulted her in his hotel room while attending the 2006 Banff World Television Festival. She says he pinned her to a wall and grabbed her jaw while forcibly trying to kiss her. At the time, she was 29 years old.

“I felt sure if I stayed in that room, I was going to be raped,” the witness, who prefers to be identified as Jane Doe, told jurors on Monday in a lower Manhattan courtroom.

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Haggis is fighting a lawsuit from former publicist Haleigh Breest, who alleges the Oscar-winning writer and director forced her to perform oral sex on him and then raped her in his Soho apartment after a party.

Attorneys for Breest are attempting to prove that Haggis’s alleged rape of Breest is part of a pattern of behavior. In the case of Jane Doe, she met Haggis at a pub gathering during the festival and says he invited her to an “exclusive” after-party that he claimed would be a great networking opportunity for her. When they arrived at his hotel, she became suspicious after Haggis pulled out a key and unlocked the door to his darkened suite.

“I was immediately apprehensive,” she recalled. “I thought we were going to a party, not his personal hotel room. I was caught off-guard.” After asking Jane Doe to put some music on, Haggis poured her a glass of wine and went in for “a relatively polite kiss.”

“I was totally caught off guard,” she recalled. “I froze a bit and not really sure what to do.”

Jane Doe said she apologized for possibly giving “mixed signals,” describing the situation as “one of those moments where you’re caught in this awkward situation.” She also said she didn’t want “to piss off the most celebrated guy in the festival.”

Haggis then made a “promise to keep it professional,” Jane Doe testified. But after 20 more minutes of talking, Haggis again tried to kiss her. She recalls feeling alarmed and threatened once Haggis told her, “You know why you’re here, and you know you want this.”

She ran into a wall, Jane Doe remembered, before Haggis caught up and pinned her arms to her torso. He allegedly grabbed her jaw and tried to kiss her, although she managed to clamp her lips shut.

“Cut it out,” Jane Doe recalls Haggis saying. “You’re making me feel like an asshole.”

Jane Doe recalled pushing Haggis off of her and storming out of the room. She described Haggis pleading with her to stay and following her down to the lobby. Haggis asked the doorman to call a cab for her. “We didn’t talk,” Jane Doe said. “We didn’t make eye contact. We didn’t communicate.”

As she walked outside to the cab, Jane Doe said Haggis grabbed both of her breasts and put his mouth on her neck. She sprinted to the taxi and began to cry as Haggis handed the driver a $20 bill.

“I felt humiliated,” she said. “I felt gross. I felt stupid because I was there. I stupidly believed that [other] people were coming [to the room]even though a lot of time elapsed.”

Haggis cut his travels short and left the festival for “creative reasons,” Jane Doe said. She said that she didn’t go public with her allegations because attitudes towards sexual abuse and harassment were different in 2006 and she worried about the impact on her career. Haggis, at the time, was riding high after winning an Oscar for “Crash” and writing the screenplays for “Million Dollar Baby” and “Casino Royale.”

“It would’ve been like professional suicide,” Jane Doe said.

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