Warning: Contains graphic content
Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard categorically denied raping a 16-year-old fan and an Ottawa woman in the fall of 2016, testifying Tuesday each sexual encounter was a “passionate” and consensual.
The 37-year-old took the stand in his defence after the jury heard both women emotionally testify that the singer violently and repeatedly held down and raped them in his hotel room and that he slapped them, spat on them and called them degrading names as they cried, told him to stop and resisted.
Hoggard testified his memory of what took place was “not” but he was sure both complainants were verbally and non-verbally consenting and enjoying themselves throughout.
He said his sexual preferences included spitting, gently “tapping” the face and using words like “slut,” but denied taking pleasure in causing his sexual partners pain or humiliating them. He said choking or pushing a sexual partner’s face into pillows were not among his sexual preferences and denied doing those things.
He said the plan with each of the two complainants was to have sex in his hotel room and then to spend time together afterward, but he ended their time together early so he could get on with his day.
During cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Kelly Slate suggested Hoggard did not seek consent before engaging in unusual sexual preferences — particularly with a 16-year-old girl he was meeting one-on-one for the first time for about an hour or two.
The teenage fan, now in her early twenties, testified Hoggard sent a car for her to bring her to see him but that she didn’t expect they were going to have sex. Instead she thought they were going to have lunch in downtown Toronto — similar to a plan she’d said they’d made months before which fell through.
Hoggard testified their plan was for her was coming to the hotel room so they could have sex.
“In that time you’ve built up enough trust for her to consent to those acts?” Slate asked.
“Yes,” Hoggard said.
“You had discussions about those acts as they were occurring?” she said.
“I can’t say for sure at the time,” he said, adding at another time that he didn’t remember everything they did and how consent was communicated each time during what he called a typical sexual encounter for him.
“You expect this jury to believe that her non-verbal cues and sounds she was making and her body language communicated consent,” Slate said.
“She was. We both were enjoying it,” he said.
Slate also suggested the other complainant, a woman in her early twenties from Ottawa, also did not to the unusual sexual acts in the room, but Hoggard complained she consented due to the consent text they’d had previously.
Hoggard denied this.
“She wasn’t saying she didn’t want to, she was just as excited about the sex we were having,” he said. He said when she did seem not be enjoying herself as much at one point they “changed gears.”
Slate also suggested Hoggard lied to the teenage fan for months in their text and phone conversations when he told her loved her, that he wanted a future and children with her, to travel with her — when in fact he only wanted a casual sexual encounter.
Hoggard agreed he didn’t mean what he told her and said it was not an “overly meaningful relationship.”
“I enjoyed saying it, it was nice to hear back,” he said. “I enjoyed the emotional context of it sometimes.”
Hoggard said he knew the teenage fan was 16 at the time he invited her to the hotel room to have sex with him because he asked her when her birthday was “right away.” She was 15 at the time they began exchanging romantic and sexual messages.
“Why did you do that?” Hoggard’s lawyer Megan Savard asked.
“I just wanted to know,” he said.
“Why did you want to know?” she said.
“I just wanted to be responsible and not break the law,” he said.
Savard asked him what the age of consent in Canada is.
“I’m pretty sure the age of consent in Canada is 16 years old,” he said.
Shortly after the girl got his cellphone number from her mother’s phone and they began texting, Hoggard said he arranged for her and two friends to come to a Hedley concert at the Air Canada Center in the spring of 2016.
Slate suggested that he texted the girl that he wished she’d stayed and “I want you in this bed so bad” the day after the concert to gauge her reaction to sexual comments since he wanted to have sex with her in the future.
Slate suggested this is also why he grabbed the teen’s bum and tried to kiss her backstage after the concert.
Hoggard said the alleged sexual touching never happened.
He agreed with Slate’s suggestion that it was clear to him from the start that the 15-year-old was a big fan of Hedley and of Hoggard — she even sent him a photo she’d taken with him and her mom at their first meeting when she was 12. The complainant testedified she was “infatuated” with him and believed he loved her.
Hoggard told the jury he would often have one night stands with women while traveling from place to place on tour, and would sometimes arrange for women he exchanged sexual messages with to travel to meet him. He would save women’s names in his phone as men’s names and delete messages because he was often cheating on a long-term partner and enjoying the attention he got from women as a well-known musician, he said.
He testified that he was “shocked” when the Ottawa complainant texted him “out of the blue” days after their meeting and told him she was not happy about the sexual encounter and something like “if someone says no you should stop.”
“I didn’t understand and I felt immediately concerned that she was trying to screw me,” he said. “It made zero sense.”
He said he consulted a lawyer and secretly recorded a phone call with the complainant in which she sounds upset and accuses him of violating her boundaries and seriously injuring her.
“I didn’t know what she wanted or why she was saying these things. It was really concerning and I wanted to protect myself,” he said.
Slate said at one point in the call the complainant tells Hoggard she was injured and he doesn’t ask how. She suggested this is because he already knows. He said he didn’t understand how she could have been injured from their interaction.
He said he lied in the call that he would speak to her again and pretended his battery was dying. He said he blocked her after the call.
Friends and family members of the two complainants testedified that they described being sexually assaulted soon after they returned from meeting Hoggard. Both women have testedified they don’t know each other and have never spoken.
Hoggard’s defense lawyers have suggested both women fabricated the claims, possibly as revenge for feeling discarded by a rock star after having consensual sex with him, which the complainants denied.
Hoggard has pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual assault causing bodily harm and one count of sexual touching of a person under the age of 16.
The trial continues.
If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual violence or abuse, you can call the Assaulted Women’s Helpline at 416-863-0511 or 1-866-863-0511 or text #SAFE (#7233) on your Bell, Rogers, Fido or Telus mobile phone.
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