‘Idol’ Alum Sentenced to 5 Years for Sexual Assault in Canada

Hedley concert

Getty Jacob Hoggard of Hedley performs in 2016

After years of delays in the trial of Jacob Hoggard, the singer has been sentenced to five years behind bars for sexually assaulting a woman in 2016. Hoggard appeared in 2004 on the now-defunct Canadian version of “American Idol,” which helped launch the music careers of multiple stars including Carly Rae Jepsen before “American Idol” started accepting Canadian contestants in 2018.

Allegations Against Jacob Hoggard Began Appearing Online in 2018

Jacob Haggod with members of Hedley

GettyHedley’s Tommy Mac, Jacob Hoggard and Dave Rosin at the 2016 iHeartRADIO MuchMusic Video Awards

Hoggard placed third on “Canadian Idol” in 2004 and leveraged his newfound fame to relaunch his punk-pop band, Hedley, which went on to sign with Capitol Records in the U.S., and later moved on to Island Records, scoring multiple hits, awards, and major world tours, according to Spotify.

In 2017, Hedley recorded what became its final record, called “Cageless.” Allegations against Hoggard began to surface on social media in early 2018, according to Billboard, as multiple women and underage girls began telling their stories online.

On February 28, 2018, Hoggard issued a lengthy statement on social media, in which he claimed he had “never engaged in non-consensual sexual behaviour in my life. Ever.”

“However,” he wrote, “over the last 13 years, I have behaved in a way that objectified women. The way I treated women was reckless and dismissive of their feelings.” After apologizing for his actions, Haggod wrote, “It’s time for me to change. I’ve decided to step away from my career indefinitely.”

However, the band promised to keep its commitments, performing several already-scheduled concerts before going on hiatus. Days after Hoggard issued his apology, a pop culture reporter for The Canadian Press attended one of the concerts and wrote that the frontman still filled his on-stage banter with inappropriate sexual innuendo and “refused to soften his frat boy persona.”

Hedley’s agency, management and record label dropped the band and radio pulled their music from their playlists. Hoggard was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault in July of 2018. He married his second wife, Rebekah Asselstine, in December of that year.

Jacob Hoggard Sentenced to Five Years Behind Bars, But He’s Back at Home

Jacob Haggod and wife

GettySinger Jacob Hoggard leaves a Toronto courthouse alongside his wife Rebekah Asselstine after his preliminary hearing in July 2019

According to the Toronto Star, Hoggard was charged with “sexual interference” — a Canadian term that refers to any touching of a minor in a sexual manner — that a teenage fan under the age of 16 said had taken place in April 2016. Hoggard was also charged with sexually assaulting the same girl in September 2016, and assaulting a woman in his hotel room in November 2016. Hoggard pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Due to jury suspensions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the trial kept getting delayed, until May 2022, when a four-week trial began in Toronto.

After four weeks of testimony, per the Washington Post, the jury deliberated for six days and found itself deadlocked twice on “some counts,” eventually issuing a “not guilty” verdict in the case of the teenage fan. However, they found Hoggard guilty of “sexual assault causing bodily harm” to the Ottawa woman, who had testified that Hoggard choked her so hard she thought she was going to die.

In the sentencing hearing on October 20, according to Billboard, Ontario Superior Court Justice Gillian Roberts spent an hour reading portions of her sentencing conclusion. The charge allowed for a sentencing of up to 14 years in jail, but she decided to put the singer behind bars for five.

“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,” Justice Roberts said. “It must be sufficient to reflect the inherent harmfulness of a manipulative and particularly degrading rape.”

In addition to the jail time, Roberts also ordered a 10-year ban on possessing any weapons and that Hoggard be placed on the sex offender registry for the next 20 years.

Hoggard, however, appealed the judge’s ruling and was released on bail, so he will wait at home while the court deliberates over his appeal.

Note: 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.

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