Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard testifies at sex assault trial in Toronto

WATCH: The lead singer of the Canadian pop band Hedley testified in the Toronto trial where he is facing two charges of sexual assault causing bodily harm and one count of sexual interference. As Seán O’Shea reports, Jacob Hoggard denies he had non-consensual sex with two women, one of whom was 16 at the time.

Warning: This story contains details some readers may find disturbing. Please read at your own discretion.

Canadian musician Jacob Hoggard emphatically denied raping two women, one of whom was a teenager at the time, testifying Tuesday that both encounters were consensual and “passionate.”

Taking the stand in his own defence at his sex assault trial, Hoggard, 37, acknowledged that certain acts alleged to have taken place during the two 2016 encounters — including spitting, slapping and calling the complainants “slut” and “whore” — could have happened because they were among his sexual preferences.

But he denied touching either of the complainants without their consent, or that the complainants cried or said no during the encounters. He also denied touching the younger complainant, a longtime fan he first met when she was 12, in a sexual way before she turned 16.

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“I knew when she turned 16 … I just wanted to know,” Hoggard told the court.

When asked why he wanted to know, he said: “To be responsible and not break the law… I’m pretty sure the age of consent in Canada is 16 years old.”

Hoggard, the frontman for the band Hedley, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual assault causing bodily harm and one of sexual interference, a charge that relates to the sexual touching of a person under 16.

It’s an agreed fact in the case that Hoggard arranged to have each of the complainants meet him at Toronto-area hotels on two separate occasions in the fall of 2016.

Prosecutors allege that once at the hotel, Hoggard violently and repeatedly raped the complainants, leaving them bleeding and bruised.

Both women have testified they cried and said no during the encounters. The younger complainant also said she tried to resist physically but Hoggard pinned her down.

In his testimony Tuesday, Hoggard recalled enjoying the attention he received after the band rose to fame in 2004, noting it became much easier for him to meet women.

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One-night stands became commonplace while touring, even when he was in a relationship, the singer said, adding he built up a significant roster of sexual partners in various cities. It was “difficult” to be faithful and easier to “just enjoy the attention,” he said.

It would be fairly common for him to arrange transportation through a travel agent to bring women to his hotel while on tour, he said.

Neither of the complainants can be identified under a publication ban, nor can several other witnesses.

Hoggard’s cross-examination continues Tuesday afternoon.

The defence has said it also plans to call as a witness a limo driver who drove the younger complainant to meet Hoggard.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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