Lead singer of rock band Hedley arrested, charged with sexual assault

The frontman for the Canadian pop band Hedley has been arrested and charged with two counts of sexual assault. Jacob Hoggard, 34, turned himself in this morning in Toronto.

34-year-old frontman faces 3 charges; is scheduled to appear in court Thursday

Hedley's Jacob Hoggard arrested and charged

5 years ago
Duration 1:53
Hedley's frontman Jacob Hoggard turned himself in to Toronto police today — he was arrested and charged with one count sexual interference and two counts of sexual assault causing bodily harm. The charges stem from three separate occasions with two different women.

After a four-month investigation, Toronto police have charged the lead singer for Canadian pop-rock band Hedley with sexual assault.

Jacob Hoggard, 34, turned himself in to police with his lawyer on Monday morning. 

Toronto police and Peel Regional Police released a joint statement saying Hoggard has been charged with two counts of sexual assault causing bodily harm and one count of sexual interference.

Under the Criminal Code, the charge of sexual interference is only laid if the alleged victim is under the age of 16. According to the statement, the alleged assaults occurred on three separate dates in 2016 and involved a woman and a girl.

Hoggard is scheduled to appear in court Thursday. Police are concerned there may be more victims, according to the statement.

The woman says the charges against Hoggard have brought her "relief" and are helping her to heal. (Paul Skene/ CBC News)

Hoggard is accused of sexually assaulting a woman and a girl on separate occasions while in Toronto. CBC News does not know the identity of the alleged teenage victim but can confirm that a former Algonquin College student is linked to one of the charges.

The Ottawa woman first came forward to the CBC News with details of her alleged rape earlier this year. She filed a police complaint in March. CBC is not identifying the woman, who is now 25, to protect her privacy. She said a Toronto detective called her Monday morning and told her Hoggard had been arrested.

"I cried," she said. "I just feel like maybe some sort of justice is going to prevail regardless of whether or not he's convicted. People actually believe."

As she read the police statement, she expressed surprise that investigators attached a mug shot of Hoggard.

"I feel like for once he looks like the person that I met. Creepy and scary." She stared at the picture for several minutes, and said that for the first time in years, his image didn't make her sick to her stomach.

"I try to avoid looking at him at all costs, but now it feels different. It doesn't feel like he's being celebrated [in the mug shot]. It's kind of nice to see him looking vulnerable and scared."

She hopes the charges will encourage other women to come forward. "The reason why I did this is to help other women and make them feel like they can speak out against him or anyone else."

She first encountered Hoggard in 2016 during a WE Day youth charity concert in the capital. Their relationship began with a swipe over the social media app Tinder. The woman said she and Hoggard got to know each other while using Snapchat video texts and other social media. After a few weeks, the two made plans to see each other and he bought her a train ticket to Toronto to see him.

The first time the two saw each other face-to-face was inside a balcony suite at the Thompson Hotel. The Ottawa woman claimed she was demeaned, choked and forced to have vaginal and anal sex. Through a statement issued by his lawyer, Hoggard denied the allegations and said the two had consensual sex.

This photo of Hoggard was taken during the Juno weekend celebrations in Calgary, on April 5, 2008. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Hedley's tour to promote their new album was enveloped by a cloud of controversy when it began in February. The twitter hashtag #OutHedley2K18 dogged them at every stop of their 32-city Canadian tour as dozens of anonymous women took to social media to accuse the Vancouver area rockers of sexual misconduct.

As the chorus of complaints against Hedley grew, radio stations stopped playing their music and the band was forced to withdraw from the Juno awards. The band was also fired by its management company while other musical acts refused to open for them on tour.

Following CBC's report of the rape allegation, the group announced its members had unanimously decided to go on indefinite hiatus to work on their "personal relationships and who we are as individuals" after the tour.

Although Hedley's concerts did not sell out, they were still attended by thousands of fans who vowed to stand by the band. And at the final concert in Kelowna, B.C., in March, Hoggard hinted at a return to music.

Before leaving the stage, he signed off, "This is goodnight, not goodbye."