Jacob Hoggard appeals sexual assault conviction in Ontario court

Ontario’s court of appeal is hearing arguments today as Canadian musician Jacob Hoggard appeals his sexual assault conviction.

Hoggard was sentenced to five years behind bars in October 2022 after being found guilty of sexual assault causing bodily harm against an Ottawa woman, an offence the presiding judge called a “particularly degrading rape.”

The musician was granted bail hours after being sentenced, pending his appeal in the case.

Court documents filed by Hoggard’s lawyers say he is requesting a new trial as he appeals his conviction on four grounds, including that the trial judge erred by admitting the evidence of a clinical psychologist on the neurobiology of trauma.

They also argue the trial judge wrongly permitted the Crown to argue that the expert’s evidence supported the credibility of the woman Hoggard was found to have sexually assaulted.

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The legal team further argues that the trial judge delivered an “impermissibly imbalanced” jury charge regarding inconsistencies in the woman’s testimony compared to those in Hoggard’s testimony – they argue the judge gave the jury the misimpression that the woman and Hoggard had an equal number of inconsistencies when “in reality J.B. had more.”

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The Crown argues in court documents that the psychologist’s evidence was properly admitted at trial, and the trial judge pared down the expert evidence on the neurobiology of trauma to the “established science” that the defence did not challenge on cross-examination.

It also argues that instructions to the jury on prior inconsistent statements was balanced and fair to Hoggard.

At trial, Hoggard was found guilty of sexual assault causing bodily harm against the Ottawa woman and acquitted of the same charge against a teenage fan. He was also found not guilty of sexual interference, a charge that refers to the sexual touching of someone under 16, in relation to the teen.

The Crown alleged at trial that Hoggard groped the teen after a Hedley show in Toronto in April 2016, then violently raped her in a Toronto-area hotel room later that year after she turned 16. They alleged Hoggard then violently raped the Ottawa woman in a downtown Toronto hotel in November 2016.

Hoggard – who had pleaded not guilty to all charges – acknowledged having sex with both complainants, but denied sexually assaulting them. As a result, the case turned on the issue of consent.

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The musician whose band, Hedley, rose to fame after he came in third on the reality show Canadian Idol in 2004, was charged in 2018.

The band went on an indefinite hiatus when allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced. Its last show was in Kelowna, B.C., on March 24, 2018.

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