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Crown alleges Jacob Hoggard is ‘sexual opportunist’ who didn’t take no for an answer

Defence says Hedley singer disrespectful towards women, but is not a ‘sadistic serial rapist’
Defence counsel Megan Savard questions Jacob Hoggard at his sex assault trial in Toronto, Tuesday, May 24, 2022 as his wife Rebekah Asselstine (left) and Justice Gillian Roberts (top left) look on in this artist’s sketch. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story contains graphic court statements describing sexual assault

Prosecutors allege Canadian musician Jacob Hoggard is a “sexual opportunist” who felt entitled to satisfy his particular sexual preferences over the objections of a teenage fan and a young woman.

In her closing arguments at the singer’s sex assault trial, Crown attorney Jill Witkin noted Hoggard testified he was confident both complainants consented to their sexual encounters in the fall of 2016, but couldn’t say how they expressed that consent and had no detailed memories of what happened.

Witkin also highlighted a number of similarities in the accounts brought by the complainants — two women who have never met or spoken with each other — saying they show a pattern in Hoggard’s behaviour.

Earlier today, Hoggard’s lawyers told the jury the musician may have been cavalier and disrespectful towards women, but he is not a “sadistic serial rapist.”

Defence lawyer Megan Savard painted her client as an insecure, attention-starved rock star who routinely succumbed to the temptation and easy validation of one-night stands over more than a decade of touring with the band Hedley, even when in a relationship.

But she said Hoggard did not rape the two complainants in the case, one of whom was 16 at the time.

“He did not take delight in their struggles, he is not a monster, he is a flawed human being,” she said in her final pitch to the jury.

“His fame and power gave him the capacity to engage in hurtful conduct and two women were hurt by his callous approach to their sexual relationships,” she said.

“But Mr. Hoggard is not on trial for breaking hearts or disrespecting women, he is not on trial for being cavalier with their feelings. He has already admitted and paid the price for that.”

Savard argued the complainants made up the rape allegations because they were “upset and embarrassed by the way Mr. Hoggard dismissed them” and the stigma of admitting they regretted a consensual encounter was “too painful.”

She further suggested the complainants “needed a sympathetic story to tell that would allow them to save face” with their close friends and family, and while they never initially planned to contact police, by 2018, the pressure to do so began to mount.

“They’d lived with their lies for so long they had to follow through,” she said.

Hoggard, 37, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual assault causing bodily harm and one of sexual interference, a charge that refers to the sexual touching of someone under 16.

The Crown alleges Hoggard violently and repeatedly raped a 16-year-old fan and a young woman in separate incidents in the fall of 2016.

Both women testified they cried and said no throughout the encounters, which took place in Toronto-area hotels.

The younger complainant, a longtime Hedley fan who first met Hoggard at age 12, testified he raped her vaginally and orally and attempted to do so anally on Sept. 30, 2016. She said she resisted physically but Hoggard pinned her down.

The second complainant, an Ottawa woman, testified 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 alleged Hoggard spit in their mouths, slapped them and called them derogatory names. They also said he restricted their breathing: the first complainant alleged he also pushed her face into the pillows, and the second complainant said he choked her so hard she feared for her life.

The Ottawa woman also alleged Hoggard asked her to urinate on him, which she refused to do

It’s also alleged Hoggard groped the younger complainant backstage after a Hedley concert in Toronto in April 2016, when she was still 15.

Hoggard testified earlier this week that he had consensual, “passionate” sex with each of the complainants in Toronto-area hotels.

He acknowledged some of the acts the women described – including spitting, slapping and calling them derogatory names – may have happened because they were part of his sexual repertoire.

The jury could begin its deliberations as early as Tuesday.

—Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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