Paul Haggis Says He Helped Leah Remini Leave Scientology



  • Paul Haggis testified his resignation letter from Scientology helped Leah Remini leave the church.
  • Haggis is currently standing trial in a civil lawsuit concerning a rape allegation. 
  • Representatives for Remini did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis testified on Wednesday in a civil rape lawsuit that his letter of resignation from the Church of Scientology helped motivate fellow celebrity and member Leah Remini to leave the religion as well. 

Haggis, the “Crash” writer and director, was a member of the church for more than three decades before leaving in 2009 over its refusal to condemn one chapter’s statement of support for Proposition 8, a California ballot measure to de-legalize gay marriage. Two of Haggis’ four children are gay.

He said most former Scientologists leave the religion quietly, but because he was a more well-known, he said he felt it was his duty to be public about his decision to cut ties with the church. Haggis wrote a letter expressing his misgivings about the church, which was later leaked to the press.

Haggis said he wrote the letter so the world at large would know he had left the religion and so that others wouldn’t be recruited to join Scientology based on his involvement. He also said he hoped it would “open the eyes” of those still with the church and help them “get out.”

“It worked with Leah — Leah Remini, she was still in,” Haggis said. 

Representatives for Remini did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on Wednesday.

Haggis took the stand Wednesday in New York Supreme Court, in connection to a lawsuit filed by publicist Haleigh Breest, who alleges Haggis raped her at this apartment in January 2013. Breest’s lawsuit asks for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. 

Four other women testified with similar allegations of sexual misconduct against Haggis during the trial. 

Haggis says the encounter with Breest was consensual and his lawyers have tried to pin the allegation on a Scientology plot to discredit him. 

Correction: November 2, 2022 —  A previous version of this story inaccurately referred to the reason Paul Haggis left the Church of Scientology. It was over the church’s refusal to denounce one chapter’s statement of support for Proposition 8. The church has maintained it took no stance on the measure.



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