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Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard a risk to public, Crown says at sentencing hearing

Crown: psychiatric report shows Hoggard has not shown any remorse and has not taken responsibility
Canadian musician Jacob Hoggard arrives alongside his wife Rebekah Asselstine, for his sex assault trial at the Toronto courthouse, in Toronto, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. A sentencing hearing continues today for Canadian musician Jacob Hoggard, who was found guilty earlier this year of a sexual assault on an Ottawa woman. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Canadian musician Jacob Hoggard is a risk to the public, the prosecution said Friday at the Hedley frontman’s sentencing hearing for sexually assaulting an Ottawa woman, while the defence pointed to a psychiatric report that said he was a low risk to reoffend.

The Crown wants Hoggard behind bars for six to seven years while the defence is seeking a three-to-four year term.

Crown attorney Kelly Slate said a psychiatric report completed after the trial shows Hoggard has not shown any remorse and has not taken responsibility for his actions.

“Because (Hoggard) is not acknowledging any responsibility, the Crown’s position is he could put himself in this position again,” Slate said, “and that he’s a risk to the public.”

The 2016 sexual assault took place in a Toronto hotel room. The Ottawa woman, whose name cannot be published due to a standard court ban, told the hearing last week that what happened will haunt her for the rest of her life.

Hoggard had also been charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm in the case of a teenage fan, as well as sexual interference involving that complainant but was found not guilty on those offences.

The 38-year-old Hoggard had pleaded not guilty to all charges.

His lawyer, Megan Savard, said the psychiatric analysis performed by Dr. Hy Bloom, a forensic psychiatrist, concluded Hoggard had a low risk to reoffend, was not a sexual deviant and not a psychopath.

Court heard that Bloom found that Hoggard’s celebrity played a large role in his pursuit of sexual conquests — that the musician had sex with about 200 people in his life and “60 to 70 per cent would be fans of Hedley.”

The band fell apart after the allegations against Hoggard surfaced in 2018.

“What Dr. Bloom found is that this is a man who is capable of personal growth,” Savard said.

“It does contextualize his behaviour, instead of a big question mark of is this a serial sexual predator and we have positive evidence that is not the case.”

But the Crown said Bloom’s report should be given little weight in sentencing. Slate pointed to Bloom’s own admission in the report on its limitations — primarily that he relied on interviews with Hoggard, his wife, family and friends and no interviews with the victim or any of the musician’s previous girlfriends and sexual partners.

Slate said the sentence should be well above the normal three-to-five year range for several reasons, including the violent nature of the sexual assault.

“On numerous occasions Mr. Hoggard overpowered and held (her) down against her will and that repeated violence for sexual gratification lasted over a period of hours,” said Crown attorney Jill Witkin.

Court previously heard Hoggard met the woman through Tinder and two weeks later arranged for her to travel to Toronto to meet for sex in a hotel room.

But once inside the room, the woman told court, Hoggard “became a completely different person” and a “complete psychopath.”

The woman testified Hoggard raped her repeatedly, choked her, called her a “dirty little pig” while he made animal noises and dragged her to the bathroom where he asked her to urinate on him and she said no.

She said she thought she was going to die while being choked.

Hoggard later told Bloom he maintained his innocence after the jury’s verdict came down, saying the encounter was consensual. The woman testified the entire incident from start to finish was not consensual.

“The Crown’s position is the lack of remorse and not taking responsibility for his actions limits his potential for rehabilitation,” Slate said.

The defence argued Hoggard should be given a lesser sentence partially because he has no criminal record and has great potential at rehabilitation.

Savard said part of the woman’s testimony lacked credibility and reliability. She said the woman could not recall, for example, if she was penetrated three or four or five times and she also had a penchant for exaggeration.

The psychiatric report, which was requested by the defence, found Hoggard’s numerous sexual encounters occurred because of his celebrity.

Bloom wrote that now that Hoggard’s life as a celebrity is over, he is unlikely to be in a situation with a fan again.

“I would appraise Mr. Hoggard’s risk for engaging in the same or similar behaviours in the future as low,” Bloom wrote.

“It could never be said of anyone that they are at no risk at all.”

Savard said Hoggard now has little money, works in the construction industry and has few skills outside music. He was publicly humiliated and now must weigh whether he should go out in public with his family or not, she said.

The judge asked Hoggard at the end if he wanted to say anything.

“I’m going to pass,” Hoggard said.

The sentence is set to be delivered on Oct. 20.

—Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Hoggard found guilty of sex assault against woman, acquitted on 2 other charges