This statement from Paul Haggis’ ex-wife Deborah was published a few days ago.
Though I put it on Facebook and Twitter, I want to spread it as widely as possible as I feel what she has to say is important, and it matches what I know of Paul. He, like all of us, has his flaws. But what I do know is that he is a gentleman in every sense of the word, and a generous and kind man who spends more time caring about and trying to help others than anyone I know.
I also refer readers back to my earlier post Framing Whistleblowers — The Scientology Playbook
A STATEMENT FROM AN EX-WIFE
As a woman, and an ex-actress in Hollywood, I have an unwavering support for the brave women, and some men, who have come forward to speak out against sexual predators in the film business. But even great movements by brave and sincere people can be used cynically.
I am not courageous. I don’t go out of my way to stick my neck out for others or champion an underdog. That would be my ex-husband Paul Haggis. In all the years I have known, been married to, worked together with, and been Paul’s ex, I have never known anyone more generous, caring, or selfless than him. When I met Paul, some 26 years ago, his credit rating was terrible – because he had co-signed mortgages in order that six of his friends could buy homes. And to a one they had all defaulted on those loans, bankrupting Paul.
Aghast, I asked how he could have put himself in that kind of position. His response was simple, “they’re my friends and they needed it”. That is Paul in a nutshell.
When Paul left Scientology in such a bold and vocal way, I didn’t say anything. I didn’t feel comfortable speaking out or even publicly supporting him, though privately I did. But now Paul’s name is being impugned, and I find I cannot sit by in silence. I feel a responsibility to stand up for the man who always stands up for others.
In 2010, when Paul was in Haiti right after the earthquake, he discovered there was no free high school for the children of the slums. Against all odds, he fought tirelessly to fundraise and build one. Today, four thousand of the poorest children in the western hemisphere are getting a secondary education and the chance to break out of the cycle of poverty because of him. He resigned from his charity only because of his paramount concern for this organization.
In December of 2017 Paul filed a lawsuit against a woman who had demanded a nine million dollar “settlement” in exchange for her not going public about her supposed claim. Paul would not negotiate or capitulate. Instead, he went straight to the District Attorney’s Office – who I understand did not know anything about this woman’s story – and insisted that they question him in detail. He also filed a suit against the woman for emotional distress. In doing so, Paul was the one who brought this woman’s accusations out publicly- not the woman, who was demanding millions of dollars in hush money.
Paul has also categorically denied these new anonymous accusations of violent behavior. I don’t know the women who are making these allegations against Paul; because they are anonymous. How is it even possible, in America in the year 2018, that someone can destroy another’s reputation and not even have to give their name?
I know Paul. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt and in my heart that he would never have committed any violent acts against women. I know it because I know his character, and I know these allegations go against the core of who he is.
But then there are also facts that back up my convictions.
At the time of the claimed incident with Ms. Breest in January of 2013, Paul had just had serious back surgery. On his doctor’s orders, he wore a surgical brace under his shirt through the recovery period. He wore it until his birthday in March and during that time had to be very careful how he stood or sat. He was no physical condition to restrain a young woman against her will. Also, the apartment in which he lives, that we used to share, has an elevator door that opens right into the apartment. All that is required to leave is simply to press the elevator button. No key is required. Ms. Breest alleges she couldn’t escape from Paul – however anyone can simply walk to the elevator door and push a button to exit, or walk to either of the fire escape doors, located in both bedrooms.
Then there is the claim by an anonymous woman that, in 1996, she was an in-house publicist working on Paul’s TV show, and that he allegedly raped her one night late in his office. In 1996 Paul and I were working together on that series. There was no in-house “publicist” working in our offices – I would know, I had the office adjacent to Paul’s. We frequently worked late, and I always stayed with Paul and we always left together. Although we were not yet married, we were living together, and together we would make the half hour drive home. Every morning. Every night.
What I know for a certainty, even in those moments as a wife or ex-wife where I was furious with him at times, is that Paul is not the type of man who would ever commit an act of violence or aggression against a woman. He has never forced me to do anything against my will; has never been violent to me, no matter the provocation. This is not a man who has a “pattern of violence against women” as is so luridly claimed.
And here is what else I know: Paul would use his dying breath defending a friend who was under attack or in need. He always stands up and fights for what is right, no matter the consequences. And if one of Paul’s friends or family members, a good acquaintance – or even a stranger – like the homeless man he had move in with him (and me!) after his first marriage ended – were ever in need, Paul would bend over backwards to help or defend them, because that’s who he is.
But who is the champion for the champion of the underdog? I simply cannot stay quiet and let a good man’s reputation be impugned. I’ve noticed lately there seems to be a shortage of good men, and I don’t happen to think we have any to spare.
Paul and I had our troubles. If we didn’t we wouldn’t have separated in late 2009, and we wouldn’t have divorced after that. He has flaws, as do we all, he is by no stretch of the imagination a perfect man. But I know Paul better than just about anyone on the planet. I have seen him in the best and worst of times, I know who he is inside and out, and I know he would never use coercion, threats, or violence to have sex with a woman.
January 10, 2018
Len Zinberg says
It’s infinitely more likely that this is a Scientology planned operation to discredit and “ruin utterly” Paul Haggis.
Character assassination is what Scientology excels at. Investigate this case and I predict we’ll discover OSA’s DNA all over it.
Well, we all know scientology’s incredible ability to fire foot bullets.
If they are behind the Paul Haggis accusations, I don’t think society would be shocked and this could just blow up into one of the stupidest things they have ever done.
Truth will come out, it always does.
Jere Lull says
I just hope itches out sooner than later. Terrorists like that should be stomped out hard. The penalties for false accusation should be as dire as Paul has suffered.
Sounds like the work of the Scientologists. It is their MO. They are nothing but cowards. Trying to ruin a good person who spoke out about their many abuses. They are Nothing but a bunch of lying, cowardly, thieves.
Paul Haggis has a lot of credibility in my book. His reasons and manner for leaving the church, his response to Marty after being stabbed in the back by him, his dedication to helping others – including children in Haiti, his friends and even the homeless, his standing up for his daughter’s rights, and his response to dealing with recent accusations, are evidence of his integrity. So much so that I think if he had indeed committed sexual abuse, he is the kind of man that would stand up, come clean, pay his dues and make up the damage to the best of his ability.
Innocent until proven guilty, and you’d better have ‘a smokin’ gun and the body’ before I’ll give the time of day to the accusations against Paul.
My hope and prayer is that this situation becomes yet another foot bullet for this despicable thug “church.”
Stay strong Paul!
Gus Cox says
I also note that it was Mr. Haggis who made it public – by suing Ms. Breest. She never “spoke out,” he did. She just tried to shake him down for some cash, and her story fell apart simply by the choice of time she fabricated: Right after Mr. Haggis had back surgery. Oops.
This just reeks of clam.
Cynthia Ejiogu says
I look at this as his ex wife has nothing to gain from defending him. Also if he was guilty the last thing he would want is to go to court. Silence is what you want if you did something that would make you look bad and ruin your life and ability to earn a living. Also Paul has daughters that he left the COS for. We know rape is a power thing. If he loved power so much why leave a group that gave him a sense of it beyond the regular world? Paul loves the “real” world too much to put it all on the line doing something as gross as raping someone. If he really wanted a girl he could have anyone he wanted. I am not saying he would but really he has money and lives in a place where you can order a girl on an app! Why would he all need f the sudden try to “rape” an employee? It makes no sense. We will continue to support victims but in this case the”victim” we believe is the villain! Again thank you Debbie I am sorry that your marriage ended but again you are both a class act if you can still be friends!
I was so pleased to read this letter from her. She is well-spoken, articulate, and makes no bones about her faith and the reasons why she believes in PH.
One of things that stands out about these claims, other than instinct that they are total bullshit, is one of the many things I’ve learned about Mr. Haggis. And that is….
Mr. Haggis left the cult because of his high moral fiber and integrity and how it was in direct conflict with the cult’s operations and behaviors against others. He implored others, presumably his friends, to look within themselves and reconcile these contradictions. He wrote an email to many itemizing the cult’s transgressions and abuse against others and why these behaviors were abhorrent to him…consequently, these behaviors and abuses against others were the reasons he left the cult after 30+ years. Leah went against disconnection policy to maintain a relationship with him because she respected him and his integrity. These are not the actions of a sexual predator. These are not the actions of an abuser. These are the actions of an individual who values others….who respects the rights of others….who speaks on behalf of others when they cannot speak for themselves…who challenges long-standing belief and value system and consciously makes a decision to effect change. This is Paul Haggis.
Peter Norton says
I find it wonderful to find such integrity anywhere. I never doubted, from the first time I heard it, that Paul Haggis was innocent of such a charge. Nor did I doubt for a single moment that Miscavige was/is behind it. The entire thing reeks of scientology calumny.
It is my fervent hope that a thorough investigation be done. My only concern is that such an investigation might have the LAPD in control. Enough said. That goes for the LA District Attorney’s office, as well. The odor in both those organizations is rank.
Mr. Haggis, at this moment, I would love to be in a position to call you a personal friend. That goes, too, for Ms. Rennard. It would be, in both cases, a great honor.
Mike, as an addition, it doesn’t surprise me one bit that you leapt at the opportunity to help right this dreadful wrong. It speaks to the great ethical level you’ve achieved since leaving scn behind you. VVVVVWD!
Barbara Carr says
I haven’t questioned the truthfulness of most of the women publicized in the “Me Too” movement. Because,in fact, I was sexually harassed as well as being sexually assaulted; however I was extremely skeptical concerning the allegations facing Paul Haggis. I saw and still see him as an extremely principled man. He knew he took his reputation in his hands when he denounced scientology. Unfortunately his accusations have birthed even worse, more heinous charges. It’s a shame that he is being impugned in this manner.. Please let him know Mike, how many of us stand behind him.
If the accusations end up reeking of raw sewage, then rest assured that they come from the bowels of COB and the CoS
Having known Paul for sometime, this rang false to me immediately. I’ve had an opportunity to know him through many diverse situations and never saw any indication of the abusive behavior described by his accusers. Considering what Hubbard said regarding fair game and lawsuits and my first hand knowlede of Paul, I strongly suspect the “usual suspects”, OSA and The Great Miscavige. I’m really sorry Paul is having to go through this.
Jere Lull (37 years recovering) says
I’m hoping that OSA’s involvement in these baseless charges give the Justice system the ability to drill down to the dwarfenfürhrer’s masterminding the smear campaign.(if such an obvious footbullet could be called that.)
run, Davey-boy, RUN! The crosshairs are being trained on you. Soon, there won’t be enough sheeple left to protect your scrawny, childish derriere
Joe Pendleton says
Very well stated Deborah. And I hope that the statement gets national play.
Under this new McCarthyism, just an accusation can end a career and yes, it is now apparently “guilty until proven guilty” … Hey, just like in a Comm Ev!
First of all, Deborah, what a kind thing to do. To speak out like that is very gracious.
And, you know Mike, if it can be proven that Miscavige or any of his goons are stalking in the background on this one…well, what a great opening segment for season 3 of the Aftermath.
Excellent, Paul is receiving what he has given to others, i.e. support and help from a friend and he deserves it.
Scientology can not even plan an attack with facts, their lies are so obvious (as exposed above) that all the criminal effort to discredit Paul has, and will keep backfiring to the liars that perpetrate such a coward action.
Even if I don’t know him personally I stand with him and, if I can do anything to back him up I am here ready to do it.
He sure stood up for what he saw was right and persisted until he came through. Well done man.
In my line of work, I deal with a lot of the seamy underbelly and know that people tend to act within a band of reactions in certain situations a large majority of the time, and the minute I saw the headline, before I read the story, I thought, “wow he’s being backdoored by scientology”. Then I read the story and was certain of it.
The huge “tell” was the hamfisted way that Ms. Breest demanded hush money from Paul Haggis. He was wise not to pay it as more likely than not, she would have gone to the press anyway and used the money as evidence that her trumped up claim was true. I hope her A-E ends well and she leaves scientology and admits what she was doing at some point.
Those other anonymous women don’t exist either. The inflation of the statistics with nothing to back it up is another tell that it’s a page out of the scientology playbook.
A physically abused person is usually ashamed they are being abused and whispers of their abuse behind closed doors if at all and doesn’t shout it from the rooftops (I’m looking at you and your claims of abuse during divorce proceedings, Heather Mills McCartney).
A sexually abused woman does not attempt to blackmail the abuser, the abuser attempts to silence the person he abused.
Scientology is so used to extorting money from people and shutting them up that they don’t understand or operate within the rules of polite society. Therefore it becomes obvious to all but a devoted bubble dweller that they are behind something.
If Paul did this, I would be floored. If scientology is doing this to Paul, it would not surprise me. His ex wife backing him up is admirable.
I have nothing but respect for someone brave enough to face someone who has harmed them. I have nothing but contempt for someone jumping on the bandwagon and sneaking in the back door trying to harm someone with lies.
Ed Kette says
Dear Mr. Haggis:
Thank you very much for your great contribution for betterment of the Haitians! That is real advance for the mankind.
I second that motion.
I just want to know if the women making these accusations have any ties to $cientology. If so case closed.
Active Xenutards are such loathsome brainwashed creatures. They in fact reflect the worst of man and are the least deserving of the benefits they think they will find in a cult dictated by a very sick-minded L. Ron Blubbertard and delusions-of-power dwarfenFuehrer.
Cat W. says
Thank you so much for sharing this, Mike.
As a default, I give a lot of credence to claims of women regarding sexual abuse, but I also feared it was inevitable that as this “cultural moment” continued, such claims would be abused. Scientology was always my vote for “most likely to abuse sexual abuse claims.” That’s based on hard evidence of the church’s behavior.
Also, in this case, I feel that we do have a sense of Paul Haggis’ character beyond that of, say, Matt Lauer or some of the other “nice guy” abusers. That is because he had ample opportunity to make his life much easier and keep a lot of his friends just by keeping his mouth shut about the abuses of Scientology. But once he found out, he felt he had a moral responsibility to tell the truth. You can feel his sincerity and passion about this when he speaks. He’s not coming from a narcissistic or self-important place like LRH or DM. He’s not puffing himself up. He feels true ethical conviction, somehow immune from the church’s deliberate mis-education about and redefinition of ethics.
So, in this case, I would definitely need to know a lot more specifics before I considered believing the claims. #1 specific being what connection these women have to CoS, its subsidiaries, or people hired by them. In this case, my default is to believe Paul unless and until I see hard evidence to contradict his account.
And if these women are discovered to be making fraudulent claims, I think the book should be thrown at them, legally, as well as at whoever put them up to it or paid them for it. If we want to be able to believe women who come forward after abuse, we have to punish those who lie for monetary gain (or out of unethical loyalty to an abusive cult).
Anna Eddy says
As a person who has first hand knowledge of the devastation that can be caused by sexual abuse/assault and the long term damage that it causes, I’m always of the mind to believe accusations that are made against a person. But as soon as I seen this article I knew it was a ploy by scamology. Their dirty hands were all over it and now that I’ve read his ex-wife’s letter it gives just one more reason of the need to end this cult. To take a good, decent, giving and honest man and try to destroy him with these unfounded accusations is exactly why I support any action to end them.
Thank you, Mr. Rinder for sharing this.
I trust my gut on most things and when I first heard about this my knee jerk reaction was No Fricking Way. I didn’t believe it and still don’t. I am glad that this is being shown for the bullshit that it is.
Old Surfer Dude says
+1. Nice post. I feel the same way.
Alex Bailes says
That tells you all you need to know. Brilliant.
Jonathan Mark says
Thank you Ms. Rennard. Not everyone would speak up for an ex-spouse as you have. I knew the accusations were false anyway, but you have provided further evidence of that
Mick Roberts says
I’ve always been hesitant to dismiss someone’s claims of sexual assault. However, this is the problem that Scientology has. Anything even remotely connected to that organization is going to be questioned by any reasonable person. And now his ex-wife has also come out in his defense. Having a former spouse act as a character witness in defense of someone matters significantly.
In addition to acting as a character witness, she also provided so much reasonable doubt about the validity of these claims (he was dealing with a back injury during the Breest claim, and they never had an in-house publicist in one of the anonymous claims).
There is also an interesting question of the timing of these claims. We are definitely seeing more and more women (and men) speaking out about past sexual abuses by people in positions of power with the #MeToo movement, which has enabled more women to feel comfortable speaking out about their own experiences of being sexually assaulted/molested.
However, reading the civil complaint she filed, she started going to a psychologist in June 2017 (after the Aftermath Memorial Day special), which I believe is right around the time that Paul Haggis was shown (or perhaps known) to be a contributor in season 2. This is when she would have had the first official record of making these claims (she claims she has “friends” she told immediately after the alleged incident).
I know that Scientology has a complete disdain for getting involved with anything to do with psychiatry (and perhaps they are hoping people will dismiss any links to this case since Breest went to a psychologist), but I have also learned that they will use anyone and any group for their own benefit (read Tony Ortega’s post about how Scientology is taking Humira money as a way to finance themselves).
And just when the #MeToo movement is picking up steam, then they go and demand “hush money”. The fact that Haggis immediately filed a lawsuit based on extortion makes me question these claims. The fact that Haggis has been attacked and others have been smeared in an attempt to discredit and destroy them (read Ortega’s The Unbreakable Miss Lovely), based on Hubbard’s own written directives, and the timing of everything (when I would imagine the C of S would have learned about Haggis’ involvement in the Aftermath show and just when they want to distract from the Danny Masterson allegations) makes me question the validity of the claims in this particular case.
That’s a Scientology problem, and that’s the problem they have. This all may seem like it’s getting into “conspiracy theory” territory, but if it looks like a duck…..
The timing to come out to the public was right before the Golden Globes. Seems to also be strategic.
OK, other than the one who tried blackmail, ALL are anonymous (and have stories that are impossible). Sorry but that screams Hubtard’s GO/OSA tactics.
Old Surfer Dude says
It’s a classic blackmail attempt to smear Paul Haggis. When I first learned about this situation, it screamed OSA. And with several women telling the same story, it reeks of Scientology.
Chee Chalker says
A well written and powerful statement.
I wrote over on the Bunker that PH would have to be the world’s stupidest man to attempt something like this knowing full well he had a target oh his back after he left the Co$.
And Paul Haggis is the furthest thing from stupid.
The good news is 90% or so of the comments on the articles regarding this matter conclude that Scientology is behind it.
Good job Dave! Yet another footbullet!
Brava, Ms Rennard. Brava. This speaks not just to Mr. Haggis’ character, it also speaks to your own. I doubt the two of us will ever meet, and after seeing your letter here and elsewhere, I’ll always consider that my loss. May you always have someone who has your back.
Mr. Rinder, I greatly appreciate your spreading Ms Rennard’s letter. My wish for her extends also to you and every one of the regulars here at your blog.
Now is the time to do some digging and find $cientology’s sewage hand in all this.
This is “fair game” at its best, I just hope somewhere it can be proven, $cientology is pretty good at covering its tracks, but it usually leaves some sort of fingerprints here and there, just needs some sniffing and digging.
Hopefully, these accusers will be outed as the tools of $ceintology that they are. Just the facts lady, just the facts!!
Cat W. says
Yes. I wish Anonymous would show up again to find us the real facts.
4chan could probably get to the bottom of it in an afternoon.
If you are involved, scientology, get ready for the attention. I would love to see a 60 Minutes special episode about all of this in the future.
Cat W. says
” I would love to see a 60 Minutes special episode about all of this in the future.”
Can we make that a mockup? a postulate? hehe.
I agree. I think it is important to expose any fair gaming going on and then on the flip side, if she isn’t lying, to protect her. I would not want someone to be revictimized if that were the truth. But I immediately thought it was C0$ when I heard the headline. I know nothing about sluething but in minutes found that she was visiting in CA in November 2016 attending a party. I hope that if someone knows something, they come forward. https://wearetravelgirls.com/new-york-guide/
That immediately after being contacted by Ms. Breest Paul Haggis went directly to the police and put the entire matter in their hands speaks volumes to me. This is the response of an innocent man. And a courageous man too. Wow.
And his ex-wife – what a class act she is.
Agreed! I noticed it took a while for the mainstream media to print that story. It is disappointing that they didn’t do their homework and print the facts. A lawsuit had already been filed. They could have been balanced and presented both sides immediately. That would have been fair reporting.
Chicken, in going to the police and insisting on being questioned by them, and and in having the entire matter investigated and handled by due process in our justice system Paul Haggis has ensured that what you want (actual justice) has begun, per our system.
Why should he pay anybody anything if he’s innocent?
That other powerful men are being accused of rape and so forth does not make HIM guilty! I mean, that’s just nuts!