WARNING: This article contains exploit details.
Canadian musician Jacob Hoggard was sentenced to five years in prison by a Toronto judge on Thursday.
It was the third and final day of a court hearing that began earlier this month.
Hoggard, former lead singer of the rock band Hedley, was found guilty of sexual assault with bodily harm in June after the 2016 rape of an Ottawa woman.
The Crown had sought a sentence of six to seven years for Hoggard – above the normal range for sexual assault by someone with no criminal record, the court heard. The prosecution argued that Hoggard posed a risk to the public.
At the same time, the defense proposed a lighter sentence of three to four years. They pointed to a psychiatric report that said he was at low risk of recidivism and had a good chance of rehabilitation.
At the sentencing in a downtown Toronto courtroom, Ontario Superior Court Justice Gillian Roberts said Hoggard’s offense involved “gratuitous humiliation” and “gratuitous violence.”
“That’s not an exaggeration [the woman] she is no longer the same person she was before the attack. She was physically hurt … much more significant was the psychological pain,” Roberts said.
“Whatever fleeting moments of satisfaction Mr. Hoggard derived from his behavior came at the staggering and utterly unacceptable cost of being changed forever. [the woman’s] life.”
The judge said she accepted the woman’s evidence “in its entirety”, including that Hoggard repeatedly raped the woman anally, vaginally and orally, strangled her, spat on her, called her a whore and a pig and smeared her like an animal.
“An appropriate and proportionate sentence is five years”
Dr. Hy Bloom, a forensic psychiatrist, was retained by the defense to evaluate Hoggard for any sexual paraphilias. He concluded that Hoggard did not.
Bloom said Hoggard’s sexual problems were rooted in the fact that fans turned on him. The court heard that Hoggard had about 200 sexual partners in his life, with 60 to 70 per cent of them being fans.
The judge said she did not accept Bloom’s report, which said Hoggard posed a low risk of recidivism.
“The Crown rightly points out that Mr. Hoggard has always been impulsive and promiscuous, before and beyond his rock star life,” Roberts said.
“I agree with the Crown that we cannot say that Mr Hoggard will never again find himself in a situation where he has a sexual opportunity, he wants to assert himself and an impulse takes over.”
The judge said Hoggard’s sentence must be proportionate to the seriousness of the offense and Hoggard’s circumstances, including his degree of responsibility.
“It must be sufficient to reflect the inherent harm of manipulative and particularly humiliating rape,” she said. “In all the circumstances of this offense and this offender, I believe that the appropriate and proportionate sentence is five years.”
In a statement to the media, Crown attorney Jill Witkin applauded the jury’s verdict and the judge’s sentencing decision.
“Mr. Hoggard’s conviction and sentence sends a message to our community that sexual violence will not be tolerated by our community, by anyone,” Witkin said.
Ari Goldkind, a defense attorney in Toronto, told CBC News that the five-year sentence “met expectations.”
“It was also the judge’s way of proving the appeal against the sentence because, rest assured, there is a very strong appeal against the conviction coming,” he said.
Goldkind added that he believed Hoggard would be released on bail.
“He will have a very strong appeal against the conviction, but the appeal seems less exciting given the meeting in the middle.”
Hoggard pleaded not guilty
Hoggard pleaded not guilty to all charges at his trial in June. His lawyers argued that Hoggard had consensual sex with the complainant.
Hoggard was also charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old fan causing bodily harm and sexually interfering with that complainant, but was found not guilty of those charges. No complainant can be identified under the publication ban.
The Ottawa woman was in her early twenties when Hoggard, who is from Lower Mainland BC, attacked her in a Toronto hotel room. The jury deliberated for six days and deadlocked twice on “some points” before finding Hoggard guilty of sexual assault and battery in the case of an Ottawa woman.
The woman said Hoggard choked her so hard she thought she was going to die. She testified that the sexual harassment lasted for hours.
Hoggard told the court he had consensual, “passionate” sex with both complainants. He denied choking the Ottawa woman, but said the other elements described, such as spitting and slapping, were among his sexual preferences — and could have happened.
Farrah Khan, manager of Consent Comes First at Metropolitan University of Toronto, told CBC News she was grateful for those who came forward.
“We hope that some survivors may feel more encouraged to report and feel safe in trusting the system, although the system is still very flawed and we’ve seen that time and time again in this case,” she said.
“I hope it brings about a conversation about what we have to expect, not only from people in the public eye — so people who are musicians, people who are politicians — but we also have to expect people around them to not enable behavior and shy away from it call.”
‘I’ve Never Been The Same’
At the sentencing earlier this month, the Ottawa woman told the court the incident left her paralyzed with fear and despair for months.
The woman said the sexual assault robbed her of her confidence, her dreams and changed her life.
“I was never the same after that day,” she said. “A part of me died that day that I will never get back.
Hoggard has appealed the decision and will have a bail hearing Thursday afternoon at the Ontario Court of Appeal.
Support is available to anyone who has been sexually assaulted. Through this you can access crisis lines and local support services Government of Canada website or Ending Database of the Canadian Violence Association. If you are in immediate danger or fear for your safety or the safety of others around you, call 911.
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