WARNING: This story contains graphic details.
A Toronto woman has come forward alleging the lead singer of Canadian pop group Hedley ignored her ground rules for sexual activity and tried to force her to do things without her consent.
The memory of the alleged encounter is one she had locked away for years, but it came rushing back a week ago when a news flash appeared on her television screen about a rape allegation against Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard made by a 24-year-old Ottawa woman.
The account disturbed the Toronto woman because in some aspects it mirrored her own encounter with the singer five years ago. She says she is telling her story to support the Ottawa woman.
“When I saw her — that was it. I said this girl can’t do this on her own.”
“No matter what age they are — as embarrassing as it is, and as guilty as they might feel — you shouldn’t feel guilty,” said the Toronto woman, who was 40 when she met Hoggard in March 2013.
The second woman met Hoggard, 28 at the time, at a Toronto hotel expecting to have sex with the singer, but she claims Hoggard attempted to pressure her into performing sexual acts she did not agree to, including anal sex.
Hoggard issued a denial in a statement sent to CBC News at 9:30 p.m. ET last Friday and posted on his personal Twitter account around the same time. The singer posted his response before CBC News published its story. Hoggard stated:
“I did not engage in any sexual activity without her consent. The allegation is startling and categorically untrue … It devastates me to know somebody feels differently after entirely consensual sex.”
The woman says Hoggard’s response to her claims is not surprising and does not reflect her experience.
CBC is not identifying either the Ottawa woman or the Toronto woman to protect their privacy.
Met at Canadian Music Week
Hoggard and the Toronto woman met in March 2013 at a Canadian Music Week party, where the country’s top music stars rubbed elbows with journalists and VIPs. She and her husband were invited guests at a star-studded meet-and-greet, where she ended up having a drink and a cigarette with the singer. That night, she said Hoggard asked for her business card.
The next day, she said, Hoggard started sending her flirtatious text messages on her phone. She said she replied that she was “old enough to be his mother” and that it was “very kind” of him to be hitting on her.
The woman says her marriage was at a “low point” and although she was not a fan of the band, she was flattered by the attention of a younger man. Over text message, she made plans with Hoggard to meet him at the Pantages Hotel in downtown Toronto on March 22. She said she envisioned they would exchange some small talk, share a drink and have a “fun” noon-hour tryst.
When she arrived in the lobby, the woman texted Hoggard to get his room number.
When Hoggard opened the door, she said, she had second thoughts about staying but decided to “go with the flow.” It’s a decision she said she regrets.
She said Hoggard took away her purse, which held her phone, and placed it on a counter in the bedroom where it wasn’t easily accessible — a detail that resembles the account the Ottawa woman gave CBC News. The Toronto woman said he commented on how she looked like a porn star and started groping her and pulling off her clothes almost immediately while she tried to slow things down.
“I was trying to make small talk, because I was nervous. I didn’t want to jump into things, because that’s not what I envisioned,” she said.
Tried to lay out ground rules
The Toronto woman said she clearly told Hoggard what her ground rules were before sex. She was recovering from a serious injury to her lower shoulder and said she stated explicitly she didn’t want rough sex. She said she didn’t want to engage in anal sex and she also demanded that he wear a condom.
“There was only three rules, but I could … barely get those out, because he just kind of wanted to get, like, to business,” she said.
The woman said there was no foreplay and that Hoggard kept ordering her to stop talking when she tried to state her rules. (The Ottawa woman said in her account that Hoggard had accused her of “being all talky, talky” during their encounter at the Thompson Hotel in Toronto.)
The Toronto woman said Hoggard did not use a condom during intercourse.
The woman said Hoggard began pressuring her to have anal sex. She said she told him that she did not want it.
“I said, ‘I don’t even do that with my husband, so you can just forget that right now.'”
She said Hoggard ignored her wishes, turned her over on her stomach and penetrated her anally. She said that she told him “no” before and during penetration but that she was unable to get out of the position because of her shoulder injury. She says he was inside her for about 10 seconds and pulled out when she told him it hurt.
She alleges the singer also tried to put his penis into her mouth after the anal penetration.
WARNING: Graphic details. In the video below, the Toronto woman describes the alleged sexual encounter with Hoggard. Her voice and appearance have been altered to protect her identity.
She says she was only in his Pantages hotel room for about 20 minutes. When Hoggard went to take a shower, the woman said, she scrambled around the hotel room looking for her clothes. She said she left just as he was coming out of the shower.
The next day, she said, she angrily texted Hoggard and accused him of anally penetrating her against her will and warned him that one day his actions could land him in jail.
“I said, ‘I don’t know how you could possibly think that me telling you at the very beginning and then four times more that I don’t want it meant that that was consensual.'”
She said she also told him that she now had to take an HIV test because of what he did.
She said Hoggard texted back something along the lines of, “Oh I’m sorry. I thought you wanted it.”
‘I let myself down’
The woman said she initially wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. In retrospect, she said, her rationalization was just a coping mechanism.
“I thought probably he hasn’t experienced too much and maybe he didn’t mean it. I was just trying to make excuses over and over again in my head for [my] stupidity, that I wasn’t strong enough, being his senior, to just, like, stop everything and just grab my stuff and go,” she said, her voice cracking.
In the video below, the Toronto woman explains why she didn’t put a stop to unwanted sexual acts during her alleged encounter with Hoggard. Her voice and appearance have been altered to protect her identity.
“I let myself down for not being a tougher person.”
In his statement to CBC, Hoggard said “it is not within my capacity as a person to force anyone beyond their boundaries.”
Although she was nervous about coming forward, the Toronto woman said she was troubled by the social media backlash against the Ottawa woman. On Twitter, some Hedley fans blamed the former Algonquin College student for putting herself in a compromising situation while others accused her of lying.
“I just thought I’m going to help get that message out that ‘no means no,'” said the Toronto woman. “It’s brave to come forward no matter what age you are.”
Tested for syphilis, HIV
CBC cannot independently verify what happened in a hotel room between two people but has corroborated the Toronto woman’s story as much as possible.
Two days after the alleged 2013 incident, the Toronto woman told a friend whom she has known for nearly three decades about the encounter and read her the texts she had exchanged with Hoggard.
The woman has since deleted the texts, but CBC News confirmed with the friend that this conversation occurred.
Because they had allegedly had unprotected sex, the woman said she was concerned she may have contracted a sexually transmitted infection, so she visited her family doctor three weeks later, on April 10, 2013. She asked for a blood test for syphilis and HIV. CBC News has seen the results and confirmed that both tests were negative.
The woman also told her husband about the alleged encounter a few days after it occurred. Her husband recounted the story to CBC News and said he is proud of his wife for speaking out in support of the Ottawa woman.
In an earlier statement on Twitter, Hoggard admitted to objectifying women and said the way he has treated them has been “reckless and dismissive of their feelings.” He acknowledged that women can be harmed and degraded by that behaviour and said “for this, I am truly sorry.” Hoggard also said he was stepping away indefinitely from his career after finishing the current Hedley tour.
In that previous statement, Hoggard addressed his female fans and wrote: “I want you to know that you deserve nothing but dignity and respect from every man in your life.”
The Toronto woman said she wants a personal apology from the singer. When she saw the story about the Ottawa woman’s rape allegation last week, she immediately texted the phone number she had for Hoggard in her contacts.
“It looks like I wasn’t the only one,” she wrote in the text. “Interesting.”
She has yet to get a reply.