Actress Leah Remini testified Monday that the lawsuit accusing Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis of rape was fabricated by the Church of Scientology — telling Manhattan jurors “it is Paul who is the victim here.”
“The purpose of Scientology lawsuits is just to destroy your life,” Remini said, appearing via video link from Beverly Hills, with an Emmy award statue visible in the background.
Lawyers for Haggis, 69, called the “King of Queens” star to the stand in his trial over the suit from former publicist Haleigh Breest, who alleges he raped her in his Soho apartment after a film premiere on Jan. 31, 2013. The “Crash” director has denied the accusation, claiming the encounter was consensual.
He claims the suit is part of a vendetta by Scientology for speaking out against the church when he broke with it in 2009 after three decades of membership.
Remini — arguably one of the most prominent ex-Scientologists — told the court about the repercussions of disavowing the church and acted as a character witness for Haggis.
The 52-year-old Brooklyn native said she agreed to testify because Haggis is a “decent man and father and friend,” and she is an “advocate for people who have been victimized by Scientology policies.”
She claimed the lawsuit is Scientology’s way of punishing Haggis for speaking out against the church.
“You would have to retain lawyers and that would cost a lot of money and the purpose of this is to have you financially ruined so that the last thing you would want to do is to get into a battle with Scientology,” Remini said.
The church will “gather anything they can to hurt you and it does hurt,” she added.
During cross examination, the actress admitted that you can be both a former member of Scientology and a rapist.
She was also asked: “Are you worried about the church’s retaliation against you today?” — replying “of course.”
Scientology said it “has nothing to do with the claims against Haggis nor does it have any relation to the attorneys behind the case or the accusers” in a statement at the trial’s start in mid-October.
The “Million Dollar Baby” screenwriter previously took the stand in the Manhattan Supreme Court, telling jurors: “I’m incredibly nervous of course and I’m very happy because for five years I have been unable to clear my name and now I will.”
His ex-wife Deborah Rennard testified on his behalf, too, telling jurors that even though Haggis cheated on her “with roughly 20 different women” she didn’t believe the accusations again him.
Haggis has been accused of rape and sexual assault allegations by four other women, not including Breest.