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Don’t allow Paul Haggis to mention Scientology in trial, woman suing him asks court

[Paul Haggis]

On Tuesday, Haleigh Breest, the former publicist who is suing Paul Haggis alleging that the Crash director raped her in 2013 after attending a movie premiere, filed a lengthy motion asking Judge Sabrina Kraus to limit what Haggis can bring up at their trial, which is scheduled to begin in New York on October 11.

Specifically, Breest is asking the court to prevent Haggis from bringing up the Church of Scientology.

Haggis is well known, of course, for his defection from Scientology in 2009 and then being the subject of Lawrence Wright’s 2011 profile in The New Yorker, “The Apostate,” which formed the basis for Wright’s 2013 book Going Clear and the 2015 HBO documentary of the same name.

At the very end of Wright’s 2011 article, he quoted Haggis predicting that because he was becoming such a visible and vocal critic of an organization known for its reputation for retaliation, Scientology would find a way to ensnare him in a scandal.

“These people have long memories. My bet is that, within two years, you’re going to read something about me in a scandal that looks like it has nothing to do with the church,” he told Wright.


In 2017, Haggis and Breest filed lawsuits against each other within hours on the same day. Breest accused Haggis of raping her, while Haggis’s lawsuit accused her of extorting him. His lawsuit was eventually dismissed, and hers now nears trial. (She has asked Judge Kraus to move the trial’s start date up to October 3, but we haven’t seen a response from the judge about that yet.)

In the five years since those lawsuits were filed, there have been numerous press stories raising the question of whether Scientology might be involved in the case somehow. (Breest has denied, under oath, that she has any connection to Scientology, and the three additional women who joined the case also deny any connection to the church.)

Now, Breest wants Judge Kraus to keep out any mention of Scientology in the trial, saying that it would only distract the jury.

Since the beginning, Haggis and his lawyers have peddled an outright lie in the press: that the Church of Scientology somehow induced Haleigh Breest and all of Haggis’s other sexual assault victims to claim Haggis sexually assaulted them. This was a cynical strategy from the start; Haggis decided that wearing the mantle of anti-Scientologist was the only way to convince the public of his innocence…. Haggis has not produced one shred of evidence to support this bogus story….If introduced at trial, speculation about Scientology would create a cloud over this case, distract the jury, and prejudice Plaintiff. All such speculation—in the form of testimony, documents, or any kind of “evidence” at all—by Haggis, his lawyers, or his witnesses should be precluded.

Breest is also asking the court to keep Haggis from complaining in court that the lawsuit has made it impossible for him to get work as a filmmaker, and that it has made his financial situation untenable.

We can certainly understand why Breest and her attorneys would ask the court for these limitations. In the five years since the lawsuit was filed, we have seen no evidence tying the case to Scientology.

However, we’ll point out that Haggis himself has only ever given one press interview about the lawsuit, and that was to Australian journalist Bryan Seymour as part of a ten-part series in 2020. That series, “Scientology Black Ops” was spiked before it aired, but it was then leaked online. We posted transcripts of the episodes, including the ninth episode, when Seymour interviewed Haggis and asked him directly about Breest’s allegations.

Here are the things Haggis said in that interview. And he didn’t mention Scientology once. He maintained that his encounter with Breest in 2013 was a consensual “one-night stand” and nothing more.

Bryan Seymour: Paul, did you rape Haleigh Breest?

Paul Haggis: Of course I didn’t. No.

Seymour: Why would she make that up?

Haggis: It’s a good question. I don’t know. You know, obviously, you get accused of doing something like that and you know you didn’t do it, I know where I was, I know it was a one-night stand. I know what happened.

Seymour: It was here.

Haggis: It was right here, right here. It was five, six years ago now. I know it was. But…you know, am I proud of having a one night stand? No. I’ve had them a few times in my life and I’m not proud of that. Am I a perfect person in this way, not at all. But do I rape people? Did I rape her? No, of course, of course I did not. I don’t know why people make things up, why they say things that aren’t true, or convince themselves of things that happened that didn’t happen. I don’t know. I can’t tell you.


Seymour: Ms. Breest claims you said to her, ‘You’re scared of me, aren’t you?’ As though you had some sort of misogynistic, violent, sexual approach to her. Did you say that?

Haggis: No, of course I didn’t. I have to be a little careful here because there’s a confidentiality order in place which I really wish wasn’t in place. But in order to have the trial proceed two years ago, we had to sign a confidentiality order. So, assuming that what you’ve learned you’ve learned in public, I can respond to it. But…I would so wish that they would just release the text messages, release the mails, release everything because it proves my innocence, absolutely proves my innocence.

Seymour: Three more women, all anonymous and claiming to have no links to the Church of Scientology, also came forward, speaking through lawyers alleging they too were victims of sexually inappropriate conduct by Paul Haggis.

Haggis: The two women have alleged that I kissed them, and one from 26 years ago alleged that I’d raped her.

Seymour: Again, why would they come forward, albeit anonymously, and make these claims against such a high-profile person unless they were true.

Haggis: I have no idea. I honestly have no idea. All I know is they aren’t true. That’s what I know. Now, have I misread signals in my life? Absolutely. I’ve, have I tried to kiss somebody and had them turn their cheek? Have I misread a signal like that? Absolutely I’ve done that. I don’t know any man who hasn’t. I’m certainly guilty of that. Have I attacked somebody, have I forced something, tried to kiss someone, have I raped someone? No.

We don’t know if Haggis was planning to raise Scientology in the trial, but he didn’t in this interview. Now Breest wants to make sure he doesn’t bring it up in testimony.

Meanwhile, Variety’s Gene Maddaus pointed out that in the same motion, Breest does want to bring in the news that Haggis was arrested in Italy earlier this year in a case that rapidly fell apart.

“Breest’s lawyers are now seeking information about the Italian case, which they may seek to introduce at the New York trial. In a motion filed on Tuesday, they asked Judge Sabrina Kraus to order Haggis’ lawyers to turn over records related to the case,” Maddaus wrote. “Haggis’ lawyers are expected to argue that such evidence would not be admissible, and is not subject to discovery, according to an email that was attached to the motion.”

So, Breest is asking to include news of the case that fell apart in Italy, but she wants to keep out any mention that Haggis is a prominent Scientology defector who predicted in 2011 that he’d be ensnared in a scandal.

We’ll be very interested to see how the judge rules on this.



Today’s Scientology happy news. Yes, an excerpt from an actual press release put out by the church this week.

Renáta Szommer, a Scientology minister from Hungary, believes in the value of religion in improving many areas of a person’s life.

A newly ordained Scientology minister, she explains how she was able to improve her own life with the help of Scientology.

“I became a Scientologist more than 20 years ago,” she says. “I was working abroad as a student, and the people I worked for were not the friendliest. In fact, hardly anyone who worked with them before me lasted more than a year.”

Despite the challenges of the job, it was a good one with a nice salary and she wanted to succeed. Fortunately, just before she began this job, she had taken some introductory Scientology courses. That made all the difference. She noticed that when she applied what she learned from these courses, it worked.

“That’s when I decided that I wanted to know more. I wanted to know exactly what Scientology was,” she says. Although she knew she had only learned a small part of Scientology, it had helped her through the rough spots and enabled her to succeed when so many other people had failed. “Later, I applied what I learned in raising my son. He is successful in his studies, he is purposeful in his life,” she says.

Training as a Scientology minister also broadened her understanding of other beliefs and practices.


“I wanted to learn about other religions and I wanted to find the similarities and differences between them and Scientology,” she says. “I saw how we share the same goals, and how important it is that we all keep moving in the right direction.”

Szommer grew up in a Catholic family. “I would go to church, and I could see that those who really practice the religion are much more loving and helpful,” she says. “The teachings that religion gives people help them live together more easily.”

During her ministers’ training at the Church of Scientology of Budapest, by learning about other religions and philosophies, Renata gained an even greater understanding of Scientology and how much it has in common with other faiths.


“If we look at the history of humanity, religion has emphasized love of one’s fellow man and mutual friendliness and understanding,” she says. She points out there are so many wonderful ministers of all faiths. They have ministries dedicated to helping those in need, helping children. Many schools are run by ministers. Instead of harshness and hostility, religion helps lead people in the direction of love and help.

“My plans are to continue providing spiritual counseling and helping people,” says Szommer. “I can help those around me, and anyone who turns to me, achieve a happier, better life.

“Society turns to religion—whatever religion it may be. Religion helps us all win and live in a better world.”


Now available: Bonus for our supporters

Episode 11 of the Underground Bunker podcast has been sent out to paid subscribers, and Michelle “Emma” Ryan charmed us with her stories of running ESMB, the forum that provided such a great landing place for people fleeing Scientology, 2007-2019. Meanwhile, we’ve made episodes 1 through 10 available to everyone, with such guests as Jefferson Hawkins, Patty Moher, Geoff Levin, Pete Griffiths, Sunny Pereira, Bruce Hines, Jeffrey Augustine, and Claire Headley. Go here to get the episodes!


Source Code

“The amoeba and the monocell and the cellular form is apparently an endowed thing. OT comes along and says, ‘Let there be chicken,’ you know. That’s about where all that fit. And he endows this and he leaves a sort of a puddle of theta to continue to animate it, you see. Does a few quick tricks with the — you can’t say ‘fingers’ — and you get an endowment. And that apparently is the way which you get cells. That isn’t factual, from a standpoint of experience or anything like that. I don’t mean that there’s data available here by which we’ve suddenly animated matter. But it more or less is a conceptual basis on which bodies are built. And somebody mocks it up and somebody else can keep it running. But there is something to this old gag of, they say, they go out and say hello to the flowers, you know, and they grow better. Well, at a very, very low state that would not be possible, of course. A person isn’t able to reach that far. But they sort of have a dim idea that they could do it, you see. Because way, way back someplace they probably did. So they go out and say hello to the flowers.” — L. Ron Hubbard, September 8, 1966


Avast, Ye Mateys


“THE PILL: After considerable data on the subject, any bad effects from a birth control pill are handled by changing BRANDS or STRENGTHS (amounts) and with these handled there should be no trouble with dizziness or auditing, according to data from the M.O. Therefore, please note there is NO restriction on taking such pills except to report any odd effects to the MO. The previous MO, whose data was taken, did not do enough research on it. As trouble has been caused by this, it should be broadly known that there is now no restrictions on birth control pills.” — The Commodore, September 8, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Dems, including Scientologists, ex-Scientologists and ‘Dem OTs’ are getting their R6 implant restimulated, and becoming Ethics particles. They are intent on destroying civilization. This is why LRH created the Sea Org. To escape this dramatization.”


Past is Prologue

1997: “LsaDerrick” reported that Scientology defendant Keith Henson was assaulted at a solo picket outside Scientology’s Cedars complex in Los Angeles this week. “[T]hey knew Keith was coming and had some of their guys out there holding SP Criminal signs and walking along. There were a couple scuffles. Before I got there the Lisa McPherson sign had been spray painted. Scientology guy JOE got in Keith’s face and tried to grab his camera. I got in the middle of that urging them to be gentlemen. I went for water for Keith and when I came back, they had tried to grab his flyers. There was a scuffle as Keith was leaving, a Scientologist shoved Keith and took his stack of Xemu fliers and ran with them. Earlier Keith had walked to 7/11 two blocks away and passed out fliers with a cortage of Scientologist with him asking him not to do that. The scientologist seem to feel that the Xemu flier is a violation of their copyright and said the word SUE a bunch. Elliot, the lawyer on McPherson was there as well.”


Random Howdy

“The conspiracy cult is way scarier and more dangerous than any religious cult. The country is on the verge of a civil war thanks to these cynical manipulators and their feeble-minded, heavily-armed adherents. Alex Jones and the rest should be deported for insurrection.”



Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Trial scheduled for October 11.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Arraigned on August 29.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Rizza Islam, Medi-Cal fraud: Trial scheduled for October 24 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for September 19.
Yanti Mike Greene, Scientology private eye accused of contempt of court: Found guilty of criminal and civil contempt.

Civil litigation:
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Complaint filed April 28 in Tampa federal court, Scientology moving to compel arbitration. Plaintiffs filed amended complaint on August 2.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Selection of arbitrators underway. Next court hearing: February 2, 2023.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Stay in place, next status hearing October 25. Scientology petitioning US Supreme Court over appellate ruling.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for December 6.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: New trial ordered after appeals court overturned prior ruling.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Lawsuit filed by the FTC and state of Georgia in August, now in discovery phase.



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.


After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] Anne Archer is still pitching her Scientology front group ‘Artists for Human Rights’
[TWO years ago] All of former Scientology mouthpiece Tommy Davis’s appearances in ‘Melania and Me’
[THREE years ago] Hurricane Dorian’s destruction provides Scientology another chance at make-believe
[FOUR years ago] New Scientology escape book ‘Perfectly Clear’ leaves some important questions unanswered
[FIVE years ago] ‘Leah Remini’ show prompting more ‘ranch kids’ to come forward with agonizing family drama
[SIX years ago] Drone footage of Scientology’s secretive Int Base: The reaction from former base employees
[SEVEN years ago] More proof (from Scientology) that it’s never been a better time to be a Scientologist!
[EIGHT years ago] Lyman Spurlock, 1945-2014: Imprisoned and abused, a loyal Scientology executive to the end
[NINE years ago] The 1979 Clearwater Sun Editorial the Tampa Bay Times Should Run Today
[ELEVEN years ago] A Scientology Countdown Announcement: Before We Start the Top Ten, a Programming Note


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,781 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,286 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,836 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,826 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,717 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,022 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,892 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,997 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,470 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,786 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,352 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,271 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,439 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,019 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,281 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,317 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,032 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,557 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 912 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,087 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,638 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,769 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,107 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,962 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,081 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,437 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,740 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,846 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,244 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,120 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,703 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,198 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,452 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,561 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on September 8, 2022 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2021 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2021), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists | GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice | SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts | Shelly Miscavige, 15 years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


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