Warning: This story contains disturbing details
Jacob Hoggard, the leader of Canadian band Headley, was convicted of sexual assault causing bodily harm to an Ottawa woman, but was acquitted of the same charge against a teenage fan.
Hoggard, 37, was also found not guilty of sexual interference, a charge of sexually touching a person under 16, in an incident involving the same fan when she was 15.
The singer, who was dressed in a black suit, hugged his wife in the courtroom after reading the verdict. She wiped her tears after returning to his seat.
Prosecutors alleged that Hoggard groped the girl after a show at Headley in Toronto in April 2016, then violently raped her in a Toronto-area hotel room later that year after she turned 16. 2016.
Both complainants testified that they were left bleeding and bruised. Each said that Hoggard slapped them, spat in their mouths and called them derogatory names such as “slut” and “bitch” during the confrontations, and that he restricted their breathing at some point.
The younger complainant said Hoggard pushed her face into the pillows until she thought she would pass out, while the Ottawa woman said he choked her so badly that she feared she would die. The second complainant also said that on one occasion, Hoggard dragged her by the feet to the bathroom and told her to pee on him, then said he would pee on her, and she refused both.
The Crown urged the jurors to consider the similarities between the events recalled by two women who did not meet or speak to each other, arguing that they reflected a pattern of behaviour.
Meanwhile, Hoggard testified during the trial that he had “passionate” consensual sex with the complainants, and that he only sexually touched the teen after she turned 16.
“I learned when I was sixteen,” Hoggard said in his testimony, adding that he made sure “you are responsible and you don’t break the law.”
He denied choking or restricting the complainants’ breathing, but said that some of the other things they described – including slapping, spitting, swearing and urinating – were among his sexual preferences and thus could have happened. He described the kind of slapping he enjoys as gentle flicking.
He testified that his memory of the encounters was not clear, but he knew that the complainants agreed based on their verbal and nonverbal cues, and because his practice was to care about his sexual partners.
Defense lawyers alleged that the two women lied about being raped after Hoggard rejected them because they were embarrassed and resentful of his use of sex.
The jury, which appears to be made up of 10 men and two women, began deliberating last Tuesday and has twice indicated that it was deadlocked on “some” of the charges. Each time, the jurors were asked to keep trying. They went on to return the bulk of the testimony given by the complainants and Hoggard, and asked several questions about legal issues, many of them relating to consent.
Since Hoggard admitted having sex with both complainants, the case turned to a matter of consent, with jurors left to determine whether the encounters were violent rapes, as the complainants alleged, or a consensual one-night stand, the singer asserted.
The jurors were told that if they found that the complainants did not agree, they would have “not much difficulty” in concluding that Hoggard knew or intentionally ignored the fact that he disagreed.
Over the course of the nearly month-long trial, jurors heard completely different images of Hoggard, a musician whose band, Headley, became famous after finishing third on the Canadian Idol reality show in 2004.
Hoggard’s lawyers described him as an insecure and flawed man who sought women’s validation through frequent one-night stands while touring, even while in a relationship. They said he compiled a list of women in different cities and was in touch with them when he was in town, sometimes arranging transportation for them to bring them to his hotel.
Defense attorney Megan Savard said in her closing arguments to the jury that the singer may have been arrogant and inconsiderate towards women, but he is not a “sadistic serial rapist”.
She said Hoggard did not have a detailed memory of the encounters at the heart of the trial because they were just two of the countless compromise attempts he had over the years.
Savard argued that the fact that he did not try to prevent complainants from leaving the hotel, or pressure them to keep meetings secret, is more consistent with consensual sex than violent rape.
For his part, Crown painted Hoggard as a “sexual opportunist” who did not believe he should accept no-no when it came to satisfying his “extraordinary” sexual desires.
Prosecutor Jill Whitkin argued in her recent memos that the singer could not identify the sounds or gestures made by the complainants to indicate their consent, especially for actions such as slapping or spitting.
She claimed that none of the complainants wanted what happened in these hotel rooms, but that Hoggard did, and worked on it.
The Crown also argued that Hoggard had a history of lying to get out of difficult situations, as he did with complainants and romantic partners he cheated on.
This report was first published by The Canadian Press on June 5, 2022.
Are you a survivor of sexual assault and seeking support? The Canadian Women’s Foundation has a list of national and regional resources for those in need of assistance that can be found here.