After a preliminary hearing, Justice Mara Greene has determined that Jacob Hoggard will go to trial on two counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual interference involving a minor under 16. This development comes after two days of witness testimony and the former Hedley frontman’s first court appearance since Toronto police charged him. Hoggard has chosen to have his case heard by a judge and jury. A publication ban prevents media from reporting on the evidence presented (for now), but we can share some notable developments, including why Hoggard’s selection of a jury trial may be strategic.
Jacob Hoggard was in court
Hoggard appeared in a Toronto court for the first time on Thursday morning, which is required at a preliminary hearing. Arriving at around 9:20 a.m. and entering via the back entrance of the Old City Hall courthouse, he was straight faced and clean shaven, dressed in a slim fit grey suit with no tie and exposed ankles. On Friday he wore an almost identical suit.
Hoggard's wife was there too
CBC news captured this footage of Hoggard arriving on Thursday with his wife, Rebekah Asselstine, who wore a white pantsuit and a diamond engagement band and wedding ring to the first day of the preliminary hearing. On day two she wore another suit in mustard yellow. Asselstine is a 29-year-old Canadian actress who married Hoggard on New Year’s Eve 2018 in the midst of his legal proceedings. No other family members appeared to be present.
The judge set a publication ban
As is generally the case in a preliminary hearing, the judge set a publication ban, which forbids the publication and/or dissemination of any evidence or testimony. The ban will be lifted at the completion of a trial (or in the case that the judge discharges the case, which is not likely). Justice Mara Greene put a second ban on any information that could identify the two complainants.
Hoggard selected a judge and jury — for now
A defendant must state whether they prefer to be tried by a judge and jury or by judge alone at a preliminary hearing. Through his lawyer, Ian Smith, Hoggard selected judge and jury, however this is not necessarily a final decision. According to Toronto-based criminal lawyer Alison Craig of Lockyer Campbell Posner, who is not involved in the trial, there is often a certain amount of strategy involved, and a defence team may change its decision depending on which judge is assigned to the trial. The Criminal Code states that a defendant can change from a jury to just a judge, but not from a judge to a jury.
Hoggard will appear in court again next month
The preliminary hearing concluded Friday, at which point Justice Greene determined that Hoggard will go to trial on two counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual interference involving a minor under 16. Hoggard will next appear in court on August 26 at a pre-trial hearing. The trial will likely not begin until 2020.