Canadian musician Jacob Hoggard was sentenced to five years behind bars on Thursday in the sexual assault of an Ottawa woman, an offence the presiding judge called a “particularly degrading rape.”
In delivering her sentence in a downtown Toronto courtroom, Ontario Superior Court Justice Gillian Roberts said Hoggard’s offence involved “gratuitous degradation” and “gratuitous violence.”
“It is no exaggeration to say that (the woman) is no longer the same person she was before the attack. She was physically hurt … far more significant was the psychological hurt,” Roberts said.
“Whatever fleeting moments of gratification Mr. Hoggard derived from his conduct, they have come at the staggering and utterly unacceptable cost of forever changing (the woman’s) life.”
The 2016 sexual assault took place in a Toronto hotel room and the Ottawa woman told Hoggard’s sentencing hearing that what happened will haunt her for the rest of her life.
The Crown had sought a sentence of six to seven years—above the normal range for a sexual assault by someone with no criminal record. The prosecution argued Hoggard was a risk to the public.
Meanwhile, the defence had argued Hoggard should remain behind bars for three to four years. They pointed to a psychiatric report that said he was a low risk to reoffend and had a good chance of rehabilitation.
The judge said Hoggard’s sentence needed to be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and Hoggard’s circumstances, including his degree of responsibility.
“It must be sufficient to reflect the inherent harmfulness of a manipulative and particularly degrading rape,” she said. “In all the circumstances of this offence and this offender I believe a fit and appropriate sentence is five years.”
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 Hedley frontman had pleaded not guilty to all charges.
A jury deliberated for six days and twice found itself deadlocked on “some counts” before finding Hoggard guilty in June of sexual assault causing bodily harm in the Ottawa woman’s case.
The woman, who was in her early 20s at the time, said Hoggardchoked her so hard she thought she was going to die. She testified the sexual assault lasted for hours.
Hoggard said at trial that 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.
At a sentencing hearing earlier this month, the Ottawa woman told court the incident left her paralyzed with fear and despair for months.
The woman, who cannot be named due to a standard publication ban, said the sexual assault robbed her of her confidence, her dreams and altered 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.”
By Liam Casey