Caesars Windsor cancels Hedley concert after sexual assault allegation

Caesars Windsor is the first venue to cancel a performance by Canadian pop-rock band Hedley amid an allegation of sexual assault against the lead singer and multiple allegations of misconduct against band members.

Ticket refunds are being offered for March 11 show

Jacob Hoggard, frontman for the rock group Hedley, performs during the band's concert in Halifax on Feb. 23. A woman has made an allegation of sexual assault against him. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

Caesars Windsor is the first venue to cancel a performance by Canadian pop-rock band Hedley amid an allegation of sexual assault against the lead singer and multiple allegations of misconduct against band members.

Dozens of mainly anonymous women have taken to social media in recent weeks to share stories about alleged negative experiences with the B.C. band. On Sunday night, CBC published the story of a 24-year-old Ottawa woman who alleged singer Jacob Hoggard sexually assaulted her in 2016. 

Hoggard has denied the allegation against him and says the pair had consensual sex. In an earlier statement, the band had called the allegations shared on social media and involving young fans "unsubstantiated."

Since the allegations arose, Hedley has also been blacklisted by several radio stations, including CBC and dropped by its management.

On Feb. 19, the band withdrew from consideration for the upcoming Juno awards, but issued a statement saying they planned to continue a tour because "the easy thing to do would be to cancel the tour and hide."

The band played a sold-out show at Barrie's Molson Centre on Feb. 19 and performed in Quebec City on Monday night. The company that runs FirstOntario Place in Hamilton said Hedley's March 6 show at the venue was going ahead, but that organizers are "reviewing the situation closely."

Several fans lined the front row of Hedley's Barrie, Ont., show with handmade signs, which read #IStandWithHedley. (Haydn Watters/CBC)

Jhoan Baluyot, Caesars Windsor's manager of public relations and communication, confirmed it was the venue's decision to cancel the concert at the Colosseum in a statement emailed to CBC News. 

"Caesars Windsor cancelled the Hedley show on March 11," she wrote. "We will not be making any further comments."

Other venues urged to follow suit

Lydia Fiorini from the Sexual Assault Crisis Centre in Windsor applauded the decision to cancel and said she hopes other venues follow suit.

"In any movement, once one group comes forward and makes their position known, it tends to catch like wildfire," she explained. "So we really want to make sure that other venues are listening to this position and thinking about who they're booking, who they're supporting and wondering whether it's something they should be doing."

Caesars Windsor is offering ticket refunds for a March 11 Hedley show, which was cancelled amid sexual assault allegations. (CBC File Photo)

Fiorini added Caesars' move is a clear sign of the current climate and power of the #MeToo Movement.

"It's a real, clear statement that everybody is going to work together toward ending sexual violence," she explained. "That's what we need. We need people to stand up and say 'we're not going to tolerate this anymore.'" 

Former fans hope band takes time to 'reflect'

University of Windsor student Erica Bassakos said she supported the cancellation, despite being a fan of the band in the past.

"Hopefully [Hedley] will reflect on what happened and change for the better," she said.

Malik Nembhard said he has listened to Hedley in the past, but was not planning to attend their concert at Caesars Windsor because of sexual assault allegations against the band. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Malik Nembhard said he has listened to Hedley's music, but added he wasn't planning to attend the concert even before the cancellation because of the allegations against the band.

"I have listened to them before, but I may discontinue just because of how serious this issue is," he added.

Ticket refunds 

Caesars has apologized for inconveniencing guests and is offering ticket refunds.

  • People who purchased their tickets at the Caesars Windsor box office can bring proof of purchase there from Friday to Sunday, noon-8 p.m. (and until midnight on show nights) to get their money back.
  • Tickets bought online or by phone will be refunded automatically using the payment method used to purchase them.

with files from Adam Carter and Judy Trinh