Warning: graphic content
It was excruciating to watch. It must have been even more excruciating to withstand.
The second complainant to accuse Jacob Hoggard of violent rape sobbed as his defense lawyer confronted her with a 14-minute phone call that the Hedley frontman had secretly taped a few days after she accused him of sexually assaulting her on Nov. 22, 2016.
His voice echoed through the courtroom in a recording she didn’t know existed, a strangely calm, solicitous Hoggard who tells the clearly distraught woman that he’s shocked and really worried about her: “Listen, I really care how you feel about this, and it’s bothering me that you’re so upset about it. I thought we had a really nice time together, and I hope you can agree.
“It just seemed just really organic and like a chill time. I really thought you felt like that.”
“Not exactly, no,” she replies softly.
“Why not? What happened where you felt like that?” he asks.
“I don’t know — just about every time I was trying to say ‘No’ to you.”
In harrowing testimony, the Ottawa woman had accused Hoggard of raping her repeatedly over several hours in a downtown Toronto hotel, slapping her and choking her so hard that she thought she would die.
She wanted an apology and after several days of texts, they finally spoke on the phone — but she said the call lasted only for 30 seconds, and then he blocked her. Under a withering cross-examination, defense lawyer Megan Savard played her the much longer phone call and accused her of minimizing the conversation — and Hoggard’s expression of sympathy and confusion — so the jury would believe her allegations.
As the defense lawyer picked and prodded at her failure to remember details of their exchange, the complainant descended into an abyss of agony.
“This is a very traumatic event for me, and I’ve spent six years trying to block it out of my memory,” she sobbed, fighting to catch her breath. “It’s difficult to hear his voice from him, and it’s difficult to look at him. I blocked out a lot of things that happened, so I could survive.”
And as she wept, she apologized for her tears.
Even the judge felt sorry for her. Ontario Superior Court Justice Gillian Roberts told the complainant that she could take a break and return the next day. “You do not have to sit here and suffer if you are not in the headspace to do that.”
“It won’t be different tomorrow,” she replied.
Hoggard, 37, has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual interference and two counts of sexual assault causing bodily harm in relation to two women who allege he violently raped them in GTA hotel rooms in 2016 — the first, a teenaged fan and the second , the Ottawa woman who was in her early 20s at the time.
Throughout the taped call, the emotional Ottawa complainant accuses Hoggard of being coached by someone — perhaps a lawyer — on what to say, and he seems practiced, as if he’s done this before. “I feel like you are purposely not admitting fault or not admitting anything,” she says to her denials, “because you’re afraid of what I’m going to do.”
She tells Hoggard she’s in such pain from their encounter — she never says rape on the call — that she required stitches, which she admitted under cross-examination that she never needed.
“I said that because I wanted him to know how badly he hurt me and I wanted to scare him into telling the truth,” she said fiercely.
Savard also suggested she lied when she finally told Hoggard that she would have to contact a lawyer — which she never did. “I was trying to get him to admit what he did to me,” she explained.
She was then shown some texts that followed where Hoggard says he has “deep respect” for her boundaries.
“Jake you bruised me and made me bleed for a few days,” she tells him again.
“Darling, that is of course very upsetting. I meant you no harm, and I am very sorry you feel I hurt you,” he texts back.
So she finally gives up. “No worries maybe just overreacting, it’s all good,” she writes. “Thanks for even replying to me about it. I appreciate it. Sweet dreams.”
Her pain still not done, cross-examination continues Friday.