Former Hedley Singer Jacob Hoggard Sentenced to 5 Years for Sexual Assault

Canadian singer Jacob Hoggard, former frontman for multi-platinum pop-rock band Hedley, was sentenced this morning (Oct. 20) to five years in jail for the sexual assault of an Ottawa woman.

The 38-year-old was given the sentence by Ontario Superior Court Justice Gillian Roberts.

The hearing began on Oct. 6 in person, then continued Oct. 14 on Zoom, at which Hoggard declined his right to speak. He was in court for the sentencing, after which he embraced his wife and was then led out.

In June, after a four-week trial, a jury found Hoggard guilty of sexual assault causing bodily harm of a woman known only as “JB.” Hoggard could have received as much as 14 years in jail. The Crown sought a sentence of between six to seven years in jail; the defense asked for three to four years.

For about an hour, Justice Roberts read out portions of her sentencing conclusion, before handing down the sentence.

“Ultimately, the total sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offending conduct and the circumstances of the offender, including his degree of responsibility,” she noted. “It must be sufficient to reflect the inherent harmfulness of a manipulative and particularly degrading rape.”

She then asked Hoggard to stand. “In all the circumstances of this offense, and this offender, I believe a fit and appropriate sentence is five years.”

Hoggard’s legal team had already filed a notice of appeal. The victim has also filed a lawsuit for $2.8 million Canadian (USD $2M).

In the trial, Hoggard was found guilty of one count of sexual assault causing bodily harm, but not guilty of two charges against another woman, one the same charge and the other of sexual interference (referring to a person under the age of 16).

The case, involving two women (one a minor at the time) was heard in a Toronto court. The separate assaults allegedly occurred in 2016 in Hoggard’s hotel room. One woman is from Ottawa, the other from the Greater Toronto Area.

Hoggard, who took the stand in his own defense, pled not guilty to all charges.

The verdict came six days after the revelation that a new charge had been kept out of the media since March to avoid tainting the current jury. Hoggard will face a new trial on one charge of sexual assault causing bodily harm. The rape is alleged to have occurred in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, in 2016 when the band was on tour.

Allegations against Hoggard began to surface on social media in early 2018. The singer had risen to fame in 2004 on the long-canceled television show Canadian Idol, finishing in the top three before signing with Universal Music Canada for his band Hedley. Capitol signed them in the U.S. in 2006 but later dropped them. In Canada, the band’s success included chart-topping singles, platinum certifications and headlining tours. Hoggard hosted the Juno Awards in 2015. The band’s seventh and final album, Cageless, was released in 2017.

After multiple women and girls told their stories online, Hoggard issued a statement in February 2018, which read in part, “I need to be completely clear: I have never engaged in non-consensual sexual behaviour in my life. Ever. However, over the last 13 years, I have behaved in a way that objectified women.” He added, “It’s time for me to change. I’ve decided to step away from my career indefinitely.”

Hedley’s agency, management and record label dropped the band and radio pulled their music from their playlists.

Hoggard was charged in July of 2018. He married his second wife later that year on Dec. 31.

The trial was originally scheduled to begin in November of 2018, but was pushed back several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It finally began in May.

Stories about sexual assault allegations can be traumatizing for survivors of sexual assault. If you or anyone you know needs support, you can reach out to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). The organization provides free, confidential support to sexual assault victims. Call RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE) or visit the anti-sexual violence organization’s website for more information.

Dan Rys