Defense says Jacob Hoggard mistreated women, but isn’t a rapist

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

Published Friday, May 27, 2022 5:54AM EDT

Last updated on Friday, May 27, 2022 7:23 PM EDT

TORONTO — Jurors were confronted Friday with two completely different portraits of Jacob Hoggard, with prosecutors portraying the Canadian musician as a “sexual opportunist” who refused to take no, and lawyers describing him as an insecure celebrity who used women for meaningless but consensual sex. .

Hoggard, the frontman of the band Hedley, has admitted to having sex with a teenage fan and a young woman from Ottawa in the fall of 2016, forcing the judges to determine whether the meetings were, as he says, consensual or violent rape. , as the complainants claim .

In their final pitch to the jury Friday, the prosecutors said what happened in Hoggard’s Toronto hotel rooms was not what one of the complainants wanted, but what the singer wanted.

“That’s not consent,” said Crown Attorney Jill Witkin.

“Mr. Hoggard acted as a legitimate sexual opportunist, one who sought his own sexual satisfaction without regard for (the complainants’) limits,” she said. He was “on a mission to pursue his sexual preferences despite resistance, aches and pains,” she added.

Hoggard testified that he was sure both complainants agreed, but could not specify how they expressed that consent. He said he relied on sounds and body language, but didn’t give details of what those were, Witkin said.

He also said he had no detailed memories of the encounters or what specific acts were involved, although he acknowledged that some of what the complainants described — such as spitting, hitting and mentioning derogatory names — may have happened because they were part of his sexuality. repertoire, according to the public prosecutor.

Meanwhile, Witkin said the events described by two complainants — two women who never met or spoke to each other — showed some similarities beyond the specific sexual acts they believe took place.

Both recalled communicating with Hoggard via text, Snapchat and phone calls prior to the encounters, and receiving a video of him masturbating in a bathroom, the prosecutor said. Both said he was nice and complimentary until the incidents, which made them trust him, she said.

Both described a drastic change in his behavior once in the hotel room, Witkin said. And both said Hoggard messaged them afterwards “as if nothing had happened,” telling them he was having a good time and couldn’t wait to see them again, she said.

“This is no coincidence. This isn’t an unfair twist of fate against Mr. Hoggard,” she said, arguing that the women’s stories were “unusually and strikingly similar.”

Hoggard’s attorneys, however, told the jury that while the musician may have been arrogant and disrespectful to women, he was not a “sadistic serial rapist.”

Attorney Megan Savard portrayed her client as an insecure, attention-hungry rock star who routinely succumbed to the temptation and easy fixation of one-night stands over more than a decade of touring with Hedley, even when she was in a relationship.

But she said Hoggard didn’t rape the complainants. “He didn’t enjoy their struggle, he’s not a monster, he’s a flawed human being,” she said in her closing entries.

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

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

The fact that Hoggard left each complainant alone in an unlocked hotel room while he showered, and that he took a phone call and ordered room service during the meeting with the second complainant, is “much more consistent with consensual sex than sadistic rape,” the defense argues. lawyer said.

Savard argued that the complainants fabricated the rape allegations because they were “upset and embarrassed by the way Mr. Hoggard turned them down” and the stigma of admitting they regretted meeting each other was “too painful”.

She went on to suggest that the complainants “needed a sympathetic story to save face” with their close friends and family, and while they initially had no intention of contacting the police, pressure to do so began to kick in by 2018. to walk up.

“They had lived with their lies for so long that they had to persevere,” she said.

Hoggard, 37, has pleaded not guilty to two charges of assault with bodily harm and one of sexual interference, a charge referring to sexually touching anyone under 16.

The sexual interference charge relates to allegations that he groped the younger complainant backstage after a Hedley show in Toronto when she was 15.

The younger complainant, a longtime Hedley fan who first met Hoggard at age 12, said they began communicating immediately after speaking at a meet-and-greet event in April 2016.

A few weeks later, he arranged for her and two friends to come to the show in Toronto and gave them backstage access, the court has heard. The complainant alleged that he repeatedly touched her buttocks while taking pictures and later tried to kiss her neck.

The defense argued that there was no groping, noting that there was no sign of anything wrong in the photos taken that night.

Prosecutors said a friend testified that she saw Hoggard try to kiss the teen on the cheek or neck, and that the complainant tried to push him off.

They added a text Hoggard sent the teen the next day saying he wanted her in his bed was a sign that he was sexually interested in her, and jurors should consider that when judging whether the touch was after her. the concert was of a sexual nature. nature.

Hoggard testified earlier this week that he only sexually touched the complainant after she turned 16, adding that he made a point of knowing when she would reach that milestone as it is the age of majority.

In her submissions, Witkin pointed to Hoggard’s text messages with the complainant, in which he referred to waiting until she turned 18 and immediately telling her it didn’t matter. “Mr. Hoggard thought 18 was the age of majority at the time and he had no intention of sticking to it,” she argued.

The teen agreed to meet Hoggard on September 30, 2016, testifying that she thought they would go shopping or sightseeing. She claimed in her testimony that once in his hotel room, Hoggard had raped her vaginally and orally and attempted to do so anally as well. She said she resisted physically, but Hoggard held her.

The second complainant testified that she first met the singer on the Tinder dating app and, after being in touch for a few weeks, agreed to meet him in Toronto to have sex on November 22, 2016.

But instead of having consensual sex, she was anally, vaginally and orally raped and at one point dragged by the legs in the bathroom, she told the court.

Both alleged Hoggard spat in their mouths, beat them and called them derogatory names. They also said he restricted their breathing: the first complainant claimed he pushed her face into the pillows until she thought she would pass out, and the second complained that he strangled her so hard she feared for her life.

The Ottawa woman also claimed that Hoggard asked her to pee on him and then said he would pee on her, which she both declined.

Hoggard testified that he had consensual, “passionate” sex with each of the complainants. While acknowledging that he couldn’t remember details of the encounters, he said it was his habit to pay close attention to his partners’ verbal and non-verbal cues, and that part of his satisfaction came from watching them enjoyed.

The jury could already start its deliberations on Tuesday.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 27, 2022.

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