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Woman sexually assaulted by Jacob Hoggard says she was 'never the same' afterward

TORONTO — A woman who was sexually assaulted by Canadian musician Jacob Hoggard in a Toronto hotel room nearly six years ago told an Ontario court Thursday the incident left her paralyzed with fear and despair for months, and will continue to haunt h
Canadian musician Jacob Hoggard arrives alongside his wife Rebekah Asselstine, for his sex assault trial at the Toronto courthouse on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 in Toronto. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

TORONTO — A woman who was sexually assaulted by Canadian musician Jacob Hoggard in a Toronto hotel room nearly six years ago told an Ontario court Thursday the incident left her paralyzed with fear and despair for months, and will continue to haunt her for the rest of her life.

The Ottawa woman, who was in her early 20s at the time, laid out the lingering effect of the November 2016 sexual assault in an emotional address to the court.

The sexual assault robbed her of her confidence, her dreams and aspirations, and kept her from living her 20s like most other people do, she said during the first day of Hoggard's sentencing hearing.

"Before Nov. 22, 2016, I was a different person. I was never the same after that day. A part of me died that day that I will never get back," she said. 

"My life as I knew it was stolen from me and shattered beyond recognition. The assault took away my worth, my privacy, my body, my confidence and my voice."

While her friends went out and did "fun things as normal 20-something-year-olds do," the woman said she would cry herself to sleep until she was numb.

"I went to sleep praying that I wouldn't wake up the next morning," she said. "Six years later, I still have these nights."  

Hoggard, the frontman for the band Hedley, was found guilty earlier this year of sexual assault causing bodily harm in the Ottawa woman's case. The Crown said it will seek a sentence of six to seven years.

Jurors also found the singer not guilty of the same offence against a teenage fan, as well as on a charge of sexual interference involving that complainant. Neither woman can be identified under a publication ban.

Hoggard, 38, had pleaded not guilty to all charges.

During the trial, Crown prosecutors alleged Hoggard repeatedly and violently raped the two complainants in separate incidents in the fall of 2016. They also alleged he groped the teen after a Hedley concert in April 2016, when she was 15.

The defence argued that the groping never happened, and that Hoggard had consensual sex with each of the complainants.

The Ottawa woman testified at trial that she met Hoggard on the dating app Tinder and agreed to meet him in Toronto roughly two weeks later.

She testified she knew they were meeting up to have sex but that she did not consent to what happened in the hotel room. The woman said Hoggard raped her anally, vaginally and orally, repeatedly slapping her and spitting in her mouth. 

At one point, the singer choked her hard enough that she feared for her life, she testified.

In her victim impact statement Thursday, she said the months that followed were the "loneliest and darkest" days of her life.

"I would wake up paralyzed with fear over the continuous nightmares I had of that day," she said. "To this day I can close my eyes and put myself back in that hotel room."

She told the court she was further traumatized after coming forward with her allegations in 2018.

"I was ridiculed online by complete strangers. Women I've never even met were making T-shirts and signs in support of the man that raped me," she said.

The roughly four years it took for the trial to come to completion also added to her trauma, forcing her to relive the sexual assault every time a hearing was rescheduled, she said. 

Testifying in court further forced her to recall the most "traumatic and humiliating" moment of her life in front of strangers and the man who sexually assaulted her, she said. 

"The justice system is not built for survivors," she said.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Gillian Roberts said later that she feels it is important to recognize how difficult the trial process was for the woman, even though that cannot be held against Hoggard.

The sentencing hearing is set to resume on Oct. 14, when prosecutors and defence lawyers will make submissions on what they believe would be an appropriate sentence. Hoggard will also be given an opportunity to address the court, though he is not obligated to do so. 

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

The Ottawa woman has also launched a lawsuit against Hoggard, in which she makes many of the same allegations as in the criminal case.

In a statement of claim filed earlier this week, the woman alleges that as a result of the singer's actions, she experienced physical, mental and emotional pain and suffering "which will continue forever." 

She also alleges she was required to undergo medical treatment and suffered economic losses, including out-of-pocket expenses and loss of income.

During Thursday's sentencing hearing, court heard Hoggard had just been served with the document. A statement of defence has not yet been filed.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Oct. 6, 2022.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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