WARNING: This article contains graphic content and may affect those who have experienced sexual violence or know someone affected by it.
Canadian rock musician Jacob Hoggard has been found guilty of sexual assault causing bodily harm after violently raping an Ottawa woman in the fall of 2016, but a Toronto jury acquitted him of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old fan.
The former Hedley frontman was also acquitted of one count of sexual interference, an offence that refers to touching someone under 16. The charge stemmed from an allegation that the musician had groped the younger complainant at one of his concerts when she was 15.
Hoggard, 37, pleaded not guilty to all three charges, and his trial began in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on May 5, following multiple delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Justice Gillian Roberts gave the jury its instructions on Tuesday. Deliberations lasted more than 40 hours before the jury returned with a decision on Sunday.
A conviction for sexual assault carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years; there is no minimum sentence unless a firearm is involved or the complainant is younger than 16.
The musician has also been charged with a third count of sexual assault causing bodily harm, information only publicly released on Tuesday to ensure the jury wasn’t influenced by the new allegations.
Earlier this month, the court heard testimony that Hoggard repeatedly raped a young woman and a teenage fan in Toronto-area hotel rooms in separate incidents in the fall of 2016.
Both women testified they cried and said no throughout the encounters, which left them bleeding, bruised and sore.
In her closing arguments, Crown attorney Jill Witkin noted Hoggard testified he was confident both complainants consented to their sexual encounters, but he couldn’t say how they expressed that consent and had no detailed memories of what happened.
The Ottawa woman told the court she agreed to meet Hoggard in Toronto to have sex on Nov. 22, 2016. But instead of having consensual sex, she was raped anally, vaginally and orally, and at one point dragged by the legs into the bathroom, she told the court.
Both complainants testified Hoggard spit in their mouths, slapped them and called them derogatory names. The Ottawa woman testified Hoggard choked her so hard she feared for her life.
In his testimony, the musician told the court that he had consensual, “passionate” sex with each of the complainants.
He acknowledged some of the acts the women described — including spitting, slapping and calling them profane names — may have happened because they were part of his sexual repertoire.
Since he was first charged with sexual assault in 2018, Hoggard’s music career has imploded, and Hedley is no longer together. He said that he is now working as a carpenter and is married with a young son.
Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you’re in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.