Hedley’s Jacob Hoggard appears in court for preliminary hearing on sexual assault charges

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Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard’s preliminary hearing into sexual assault charges got underway Thursday in Toronto. (Toronto Police Service)

Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard was in a Toronto court Thursday as a preliminary hearing began to determine whether he will stand trial on sexual assault charges.

The hearing is expected to take two days.

Toronto police arrested the 35-year-old singer last summer after a four-month investigation. He’s charged with one count of sexual interference and two counts of sexual assault causing bodily harm.

Investigators say the charges relate to three incidents involving a woman and a girl under age of 16 that allegedly occurred in the Toronto area in 2016.

Hoggard has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He is being represented by defence lawyer Ian Smith. Crown lawyers Jill Witkin and Kelly Slate are prosecuting the case.

Hoggard appeared in court Thursday in a grey suit, clean shaven and flanked by a few supporters. He sat at a table with his lawyers.

He made the request for the case to be heard by a judge and jury if it goes to trial. 

Hoggard, right, appears in court during the preliminary hearing for his case on sex assault charges. He is flanked by defence lawyer Ian Smith, centre, while Justice Mara Greene looks on. Crown attorney Kelly Slate questions a witness, who cannot be identified because of a publication ban. (Pam Davies/CBC)

Preliminary hearings, where the Crown presents key parts of evidence against an accused, are held to determine whether or not a case will go to trial. 

Witnesses at a preliminary hearing are sometimes called to give evidence, but the proceedings are covered by a publication ban to ensure a fair trial.

If the court deems there is enough evidence for a trial, and the accused pleads not guilty, a date is set.

A judge can also dismiss charges if it’s deemed there isn’t enough evidence to support a trial.  

Allegations of sexual misconduct involving Hoggard emerged before the charges were laid, which prompted Hedley to go on an indefinite hiatus.

The preliminary hearing for Hoggard’s case is expected to take two days. (Hannah Yoon/The Canadian Press)

Controversy dogged the band’s last tour when it began in early 2018. Dozens of people used social media to accuse the Vancouver-area musicians of sexual misconduct, using the Twitter hashtag #OutHedley2K18.

Hedley fans also took to Twitter to voice support for the band in spite of those allegations, using the hashtag #IStandWithHedley.

adam.carter@cbc.ca

SOURCE: CBC.ca

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