Director Paul Haggis can argue Church of Scientology behind rape allegations against him, says Judge

A New York judge has ruled that Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis will be allowed to argue at his civil sexual assault trial in New York that the Church of Scientology is behind the rape allegations made against him by publicist Haleigh Breest.

As per the latest ruling on Friday, the director will now be permitted to argue that the church members had some sort of involvement in the rape allegation made by the publicist in 2013. The case is set to go to trial next month. 

According to Haggis, his encounter with Breest was consensual and the allegations against him were made in retaliation for his decision to leave Scientology. He added that since he has become a vocal critic of the Church of Scientology, members of the organisation have been resorting to different means to bring him down. 

“Haggis is no ordinary defendant in a civil case,” his legal team stated in court filings accessed by Variety. “He is the most public enemy of a notorious, nefarious, powerful and well-funded institution which is known to destroy its detractors,” it claimed.

Meanwhile, Breest’s lawyers tried to block that defence at trial and called it a “speculative fantasy”. While stating that Breest has no connection to the church, her lawyers shared, “Haggis has not produced one shred of evidence to support this bogus story.”

Justice Sabrina Kraus presiding over the case ruled that Haggis can raise the argument in New York state supreme court and mention his “stormy exit from The Church” in front of the jury.

“The jury is entitled to be informed of any possible motive [Breest] may have and about [Scientology leaders’] efforts to discredit Haggis,” Kraus wrote. “Haggis should have the opportunity to present evidence that will show that the church was, in fact, seeking to embroil Haggis in ruinous, false allegations regarding women prior to Breest’s allegations here.”

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“He was a member of the church for over 30 years. As a routine part of membership in the church, he had to report any ‘sexual transgressions’ outside his marriage to the church. He rose to a top position in the church. In an interview in 2011 with the New Yorker, Haggis predicted there would be an allegation made against him, that the church would be behind the allegation,” the ruling further stated.

Haggis left the church in 2009 over its opposition to gay marriage. The director even called the organisation a “cult”. 

Haggis had won an Oscar for writing and directing ‘Crash’ in 2006.