Hoggard had no position of power over plaintiffs in sexual assault trial: judge

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Jurors in the sexual assault trial of Canadian musician Jacob Hoggard learned on Tuesday that his celebrity status did not put him in a position of power over the two plaintiffs.

The jury, which began deliberations on Tuesday afternoon, asked the court hours later what constitutes a relationship of authority for the purposes of establishing consent to sexual activity.

The jurors also asked Ontario Superior Court Judge Gillian Roberts what constitutes consent fraud and whether consent is still valid if it is based on that person’s belief in “a lie about love”.

Roberts told jurors there was no power or authority relationship in the case, nor any fraud.

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Hoggard, 37, pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual assault causing bodily harm and one of sexual interference, a charge related to sexual touching of a person under 16.

Prosecutors allege the Hedley frontman violently and repeatedly raped an Ottawa teenage fan and young woman in Toronto-area hotel rooms in separate incidents in the fall of 2016.

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

They also allege he groped the teenager backstage after a Hedley show in Toronto in April 2016, when she was 15.

The Crown has highlighted several similarities in the accounts given by the complainants, two women who have never met or spoken to each other.

Among those similarities are allegations that Hoggard spat on them, slapped them, and called them derogatory names such as “bitch” and “whore” during encounters. Prosecutors say jurors should take the similarities as indicating a pattern of behavior.

Defense attorneys say the groping never happened and the sex was consensual. They allege the complainants lied about being raped to cover up their embarrassment after being rejected by a ‘rock star’.

The defense also claims that any similarities between the plaintiffs’ accounts can be attributed to Hoggard’s lifestyle at the time.

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In his testimony last week, Hoggard said he did not have detailed recollections of the encounters with the plaintiffs, but was certain they consented based on their verbal and nonverbal cues.

He told the court that he did not recall spitting, slapping or swearing at the complainants, but that those things could have happened since they were part of his sexual preferences.

As part of their questions in court on Tuesday night, jurors also asked whether sex is considered consensual if someone doesn’t say no but also doesn’t say yes.

Citing a decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal, Roberts told them that consent in the context of a sexual assault case is whether the complainant “in her mind wanted the sexual touching to take place.” .

“It is the complainant’s point of view on the touching that exclusively motivates the analysis. It’s entirely subjective in nature,” she said, citing the appeal decision.

Ultimately, she said, whether the plaintiff subjectively consented is a matter of credibility to be determined by the jury based on the evidence.

© 2022 The Canadian Press


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