Director and producer Paul Haggis—best known for his work on Oscar-winning films like Million Dollar Baby and Crash—has now been accused by at least four women of sexual misconduct or rape. According to The Hollywood Reporter, three new charges against Haggis came to light recently, after one woman launched a civil suit against him late last year over accusations that he sexually assaulted her.
All four women have remained anonymous, over fears of reprisal or retribution, but all have similar accounts to share: Haggis luring them to a secluded or semi-private area for ostensibly professional reasons, attempting to kiss them, and then escalating his aggression when his advances were rebuffed. According to two of the women, they fought him off and escaped; the other two say they were raped.
“I just pulled away,” one of the latter women woman told The Associated Press. “He was just glaring at me and came at me again. I was really resisting. He said to me, ‘Do you really want to continue working?’ And then he really forced himself on me. I was just numb. I didn’t know what to do.”
Haggis and his attorney have denied all of the accusations—which stem from 1996 to 2015—and previously accused the initial woman of attempting to extort him in exchange for silence. In that extortion suit, which was published last December, Haggis’ attorneys highlighted his “extensive charitable efforts, which support thousands of children in impoverished communities,” and suggested that there was a current culture of “public hanging” trying to bring down the “Hollywood male ‘elite.’”
Update: Haggis’ attorney has now responded to the claims, denying them flatly, and suggesting that his former associates in the Church of Scientology—of whom he’s been a vocal critic—might be secretly behind the alleged plot against him:
No one has reached out to anyone on Mr. Haggis’ team other than the press to report this. He views the fact that these reports appear to be spearheaded from the law-firm representing Ms. Breest, as a further tactic to try to harm him and continue their effort to obtain money. Mr. Haggis also questions whether Scientology has any role here, which he notes has been attacking him for years with false accusations.