Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard has been charged by Toronto and Peel Regional police with sexual assault after numerous allegations were brought forth against the singer.
In a joint news release from the two police services, police say a man met two different women on separate occasions in 2016 over three dates. They allege that the man sexually assaulted both women.
On Monday, the 34-year-old singer was arrested. Hoggard, a Vancouver resident, is facing a charge of sexual interference as well as two counts of sexual assault causing bodily harm.
Under the Canadian criminal code, sexual interference is defined as any time an adult touches a person under the age of 16 for a sexual purpose, meaning one of the women police spoke of may have been a minor — a child — at the time of Hoggard’s alleged assault.
The Toronto Police Service Sex Crimes unit has been officially investigating Hoggard since March.
The band has been on an “indefinite hiatus,” as announced on their Twitter on February 28 following countless sexual assault allegations being brought against the frontman. A Calgary radio host alleged that he had made lewd comments and touched her rear during a photo op, and an Ottawa woman told CBC that he assaulted her in a hotel room. The CBC published another report weeks later of a Toronto woman who alleged Hoggard tried to force her to do things without her consent during a sexual encounter in 2016. But they’re not the only allegations to have surfaced—multiple anonymous allegations about sexual misconduct with young Hedley fans had been emerging online beforehand.
Many of those allegations were found in the #outhedley2k18 hashtag on Twitter, where today those who shared or retweeted anonymous stories months ago are now sharing their vindication at Hoggard’s arrest. The hashtag was started by a woman named Taylor Bowman and some friends in early February. Bowman used it to collect anonymous stories of fans’ experiences with the band and Hoggard. The stories she was sent described situations ranging from uneasy sexual misconduct to violent assault, and often involved young teenage fans.
In a February 14th statement, the band said those allegations were “unsubstantiated,” but went on to say further in the statement that they had in the past “engaged in a lifestyle that incorporated certain rock and roll clichés.” Just what those clichés were was not specified.
Scores of fans defended the band, even to the point of harrassing women like Bowman and Toronto tattoo artist Lizzie Renaud, who announced back in February that she would make space in her schedule to cover up Hedley-based fan tattoos for a nominal price, or free if fans couldn’t afford to pay.
Some of those fans hold firm in their love for the band even after this Monday’s arrest, but many are done.
After the maelstorm online, Hedley were dropped by their management team, blacklisted by some radio stations and had opening acts back out of their tour. The band withdrew itself from consideration for the Juno Awards earlier this year in Vancouver and backed out of performing on the telecast.
A statement still at the top of Hoggard’s Twitter account from March claims innocence regarding allegations reported by the CBC: “Nothing will change the fact that I did not sexually assault her or anyone.”
— Jacob Hoggard (@JacobHoggard) March 3, 2018
Police are concerned that there may be more victims, and are urging people to speak up.
Hoggard is set to appear in court to face his criminal charges at Old City Hall on Thursday.