Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard has been charged with multiple counts of sexual assault. (Toronto Police handout)

Hedley singer Jacob Hoggard charged with sexual assault

The charges related to incidents in 2016

Jacob Hoggard, the frontman of the Canadian pop-rock band Hedley, has been charged with multiple counts of sexual assault, according to Toronto police.

In a news release on Monday, police said the Surrey-born Hoggard faces two counts of sexual assault causing bodily harm and one count of sexual interference. The 34-year-old allegedly sexually assaulted two females, at least one of them underage, on separate occasions over three days in 2016.

The Criminal Code of Canada defines sexual interference as when someone “for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of a person under the age of 16 years.”

READ MORE: Hedley facing sexual misconduct allegations

The charges come after accusations of sexual misconduct involving young fans emerged on Twitter in early 2018.

At the time, Hedley firmly denied the accusations. They acknowledged “there was a time, in the past” when they engaged in “a lifestyle that incorporated certain rock ‘n’ roll cliches.”

But sexual misconduct was “always a line that we would never cross,” a statement from the band read.

JUNO organizers pulled the band from the award show’s lineup in March, and the band announced it would be taking an “indefinite hiatus” after its Canadian tour ended at the end of that month.

Reaction to the allegations had been mixed, with their management team, tour openers and dozens of radio stations dropping them and some fans speaking out in defence of the victims.

One fan spoke publicly about covering up her “Invincible” tattoo, which was inspired by a song of the same name, after the initial allegations came out. Another young fan, a 15-year-old Ottawa girl, “put her concert tees into the bag of clothes for the Salvation Army” after learning about the allegations.

But some fans remained unfazed and loudly welcomed the performers to a show in Halifax earlier this year.

A 16-year-old who came to Halifax from Yarmouth, N.S., to attend her first concert, said she was relieved she could still see her favourite band perform after fearing the tour would be cancelled.

“Their fans are really supporting them and sticking together,” she said at the time.

Hoggard is scheduled to make his first court appearance in Toronto on July 26.

Investigators believe that there may be more victims and are asking anyone with information to call police at 416-808-7474, text TOR and your message to 274637 or contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477.

– With files from The Canadian Press


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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