Published May 6, 2022

Hedley singer Jacob Hoggard turned into 'monster' in hotel room, woman testifies

She told the court she had to fight off Hoggard over several hours

By Paola Loriggio in Toronto

A young woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by Canadian musician Jacob Hoggard when she was a teenager told a Toronto court the singer  turned into an unrecognizable "monster" after bringing her to his hotel room.

The woman, who is one of two complainants in Hoggard's sex assault trial, at one point broke down in tears Friday as she described her encounter with him on Sept. 30, 2016.

She told the court she tried to fight off Hoggard as he began to kiss her in his Mississauga, Ont., hotel room, where he had taken her after sending a limousine to pick her up from a friend's house in her hometown north of Toronto. She was 16 at the time.

She said he pushed her onto the bed as she tried to back away, held her down and undressed her and took his own clothes off. Then, she said, he repeatedly raped her vaginally and orally, and attempted to do so anally, over several hours.

At various points, she testified, Hoggard pushed her face into the pillows so she couldn't breathe, spit in her mouth and slapped her, called her a "slut" and a "whore," and told her it was what she deserved. He didn't use a condom, she said.

"I'm ... lying there crying on my back and telling him to stop and he wouldn't stop," she said tearfully, adding that she tried to break free on several occasions but was overpowered. Her mind eventually "shut down" as she focused on surviving the incident, she testified.

For months earlier, and up until they reached the hotel room, Hoggard had been affectionate and caring, stressing that he saw a future with her and she should trust him, the woman said in her testimony. This sudden change felt like a "betrayal," she said.

"That's where the biggest shift was," she said. "This person who makes you believe this fairy tale about love and romance and softness and gentleness (turned in) to this monster of a human who has no compassion, no empathy."

Prosecutors allege Hoggard, the frontman for the rock band Hedley, violently raped two women after bringing them to Toronto-area hotels in separate incidents in 2016. Both complainants had travelled from out of town to see him.

An agreed statement of facts says Hoggard had a "sexual encounter" with each of the complainants on the days they came to his hotel.

The singer 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 the age of 16.

Earlier in her testimony, the complainant described meeting Hoggard in a hotel parking lot after an out-of-town concert she attended at age 12, and starting to communicate directly with him after a meet-and-greet event when she was 15.

She told the court their conversations grew more sexual over time, particularly after they started using Snapchat, an app where messages and images are only briefly visible. Eventually the pair exchanged nude photos, and Hoggard sent her a video of himself masturbating, she testified.

The woman said Hoggard also sent her romantic messages, saying he loved her and saw a future with her. 

A few weeks after they began texting, he arranged for her and two friends to come see Hedley in Toronto and gave them backstage passes, she said.

Once backstage, she said Hoggard touched her buttocks repeatedly, which made her uncomfortable. She said she tried to move away or grab his wrist in the hopes that he would understand she wanted him to stop.

In testimony Friday, the young woman told the court they tried to arrange a day of shopping and sightseeing in Toronto at some point in the weeks that followed, but the plan fell through.

Over the summer, she and Hoggard kept in touch, and he even called to wish her a happy birthday when she turned 16, she testified.

"When he called you on your birthday, did he know how old you were turning?" Crown attorney Kelly Slate asked.

"Yup," she replied.

They eventually rescheduled their meeting for a day in September, and the woman said she expected they would stick to the original plan of shopping, lunch and sightseeing, adding she thought the other band members and their manager would be present.

Based on the nature of some of their texts, she thought there was a possibility Hoggard would "try something," but didn't anticipate anything beyond an attempt to kiss her, she told court.

Even so, she thought that if she said no, "he would respect that” and their day would go on as planned, she said.

Even after she was brought to his hotel, the woman said she believed they were only meeting there and would be going elsewhere.

In its opening statement Thursday, the Crown said the second complainant met Hoggard in November after crossing paths with him on Tinder while Hedley was in Ottawa.

Later that month, they made plans to meet in Toronto, and the Crown alleges Hoggard raped her "over and over" during an hours-long encounter in his downtown hotel.

Both complainants were left bleeding, bruised and sore, prosecutors allege. Neither can be identified under a publication ban.

Banner image: Rebekah Asselstine, left to right, Jacob Hoggard, Justice Gillian Roberts, crown attorney Kelly Slate, a complainant in the case and members of the jury are shown at Hoggard's trial in Toronto, Thursday, May 5, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2022.

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