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Hoggard of Hedley in hot water

author: shelbi glover | a&c writer

Hedley’s lead singer, Jacob Hoggard/Courtesy of Rory via Flickr

The Canadian singer is the latest celebrity accused of sexual assault

A Hedley song was playing on the radio the day I moved to Canada, and my girlfriend laughed when I told her I’d never heard the song before. “Hedley is so terrible,” she said, shaking her head, “but none of us can stop listening. They’re a Canadian staple, for some reason.”

It seems that their “staple” status may soon be revoked.

Hedley’s frontman, Jacob Hoggard, has now been accused by multiple women of sexual assault. Although technically unproven, the accounts are disturbingly graphic; and the accusations continue piling up. Hoggard, however, denies all of it, releasing the following statement on his Twitter:

“I have never engaged in non-consensual sexual behaviour in my life. Ever. However, over the last 13 years, I have behaved in a way that objectified women. […] I understand the significant harm that is caused not only to the women I interacted with, but to all women who are degraded by this type of behaviour. I have been careless and indifferent and I have no excuse. For this I am truly sorry.”

Despite the “apology,” Hedley withdrew from the Juno awards and announced that they would be going on indefinite hiatus following their current tour. They’ve also been dropped by their booking agency and pulled from radio stations nationwide. Before their show in Brampton only one day after the first allegation came out, both opening acts withdrew.

Hoggard’s lawyer continues to defend him, claiming “at no time did Jacob act badly or do anything without [her] consent” in an official statement. The Ottawa Woman, as she’s come to be known, disputes this; her response was as follows.

“Even if I agreed to have sex before I got there doesn’t mean when I’m there he can do whatever he wants to me,” she said. “I feel up until the moment you’re about to have sex with someone, you’re allowed to say no and change your mind.”

This hasn’t stopped fans from showing up to their current tour, though.

Even with evidence presented by the woman (including a medical report taken about five days later which recorded her trauma from the assault), many fans just outright refuse to believe that their idols are capable of such evil. At their show in Brampton, thousands of fans showed up to support Hoggard, wearing shirts and holding signs that read “#IStandWithHedley” and even one that read “YOU’RE STRONG, JACOB. LOTS OF LOVE.”

Fans even voiced their support for the group to the Toronto Star. Jillian Mazur, 24, spoke for the crowd, saying the following:

“I want solid proof. With all these allegations coming out against celebrities and stuff, I want to believe the victim but right now it’s all talk. Why didn’t you come to the cops before? Why didn’t you do the steps for it? Don’t go to Twitter and stuff. Go to the cops. Be credible. Don’t post it on social media. That’s a stupid thing to do. Your first instinct is to go to Facebook and post something? Come on, be smart. If you don’t want to be hated on and victimized, be smart about it.

Mazur was even so bold to compare Hedley to Michael Jackson, and expressed that it was harder to believe because the band is Canadian.

“It’s hard because it’s Canada — I mean, I don’t want to be known for Justin Bieber and this was a rock band that’s gone further than most rock bands in Canada, so them being Canadian, it’s hard to expect that they would do this. It’s hard, it’s hard. I don’t want to believe it but you kind of think of it. But at the same time, they’re still playing Michael Jackson music, they’re still playing Chris Brown music. So it’s like, why are you hating on my band?”

However, some are taking it upon themselves to protest Hedley’s events. In Summerside, Charlottetown-based singer Kinley Dowling and her friends stood outside of the stadium holding signs of their own, hoping to maybe change some fans’ minds. In an Instagram post, she expressed that they had received “lip” from several passing fans, but nothing in the way of physical violence.

“It’s not an easy thing for a survivor to tell their story,” she stated. “Let’s not make it any harder for them just because you like the band’s music.”

Although the band has yet to address the allegations at any of their concerts, Hoggard has made a habit of thanking the audience for their continuing support during the final moments.

“To everybody … who has stood behind us all of these years — through the ups and the downs, through the highs and the lows, the good times and the bad — Halifax, we could never, ever imagine doing this without you,” he told the crowd in Halifax, “because sometimes life sucks, and that’s why we’ve got you. And, Halifax, sometimes life sucks, but that’s why you’ve got us … Stay in our lives, and I promise we’ll stay in yours.”

With allegations of sexual assault constantly being released, it’s hard to trust any of our favourite celebrities anymore. In the wake of “#MeToo,” it’s only a matter of time before even more of our once-favorite artists to be exposed, and rightfully so, of course. Regardless of their artistry, rapists deserve to be exposed publicly and brutally. Especially now, it is imperative that we continue listening to women, despite our instincts to defend our idols.

In Brampton, Hoggard closed with “it won’t be our last time here.” It’s of the opinion of this reporter that he will never be welcomed back again.

About Shelbi Glover