Full victim impact statement from the Ontario woman sexually assaulted by Jacob Hoggard
Published Thursday, October 6, 2022 12:10PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 6, 2022 12:11PM EDT
The sentencing hearing for Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard’s sexual assault case got underway on Thursday in Toronto.
Hoggard was found guilty earlier this year of sexually assaulting an Ottawa woman. A jury found him guilty of one count of sexual assault causing bodily harm in the 2016 incident.
The following text, which was read aloud in court, as been modified to protect the identity of the victim and her family.
“Your honour, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to speak today.
I appreciate the chance I have been given to talk about the impact the assault has had on my life. It is difficult, if not impossible to summarize such a life-changing 6 years into one statement. When I try to think about the impact the assault has had on me, I cannot help but think too of the impact that the assault will continue to have on me for the rest of my life.
Six years ago I was a 23 year old college student. I had all the confidence in the world and a bright future ahead of me. I had dreams and aspirations of who I could be. I have always been told that your 20’s are supposed to be full of possibilities and figuring out who you really are. The assault stole all of that away from me. While my friends went out and did fun things as normal 20 something year olds would do – I would lay in my bed and cry myself to sleep until I was numb. I went to sleep praying that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning. 6 years later, I still have these nights.
Before November 22, 2016 I was a different person. I was never the same after that day. A part of me died that day that I will never get back. My life as I knew it was stolen from me and shattered beyond recognition. The assault took away my worth, my privacy, my body, my confidence and my voice.
The months following the assault were the loneliest and darkest days of my life. I would wake up every night paralyzed with fear over the continuous nightmares I had of that day. To this day I can close my eyes and put myself back in that hotel room.
I silently lived with the pain until 2018. One morning around 3 AM I decided to call my parents and tell them what had happened. I heard my dad’s heart break that morning on the phone. I will feel guilty for the rest of my life for the pain this has caused my parents.
With the support of my friends – who bravely and selflessly took the stand to help me tell my truth - I went to the police with my story.
I was ridiculed online by complete strangers. Women I’ve never even met were making T-shirts and signs in support of the man that raped me.
When I think about the impact that this assault has had on me, something very specific stands out. It has taken over 4 years for the trial to come to a close. Between the day of the arrest and the guilty verdict there were 1,408 days.
While each agonizing year has come and gone, so have multiple trial dates booked and then rebooked, leaving me to relive the incident over and over and over and over again. Leaving me to recoil from my family and friends over and over again, riddled with anxiety, shame, fear and depression every single time I felt like I was finally starting to pick myself back up.
I distanced myself from everything I loved. I lost out on major job opportunities at work. I missed important moments with my loved ones that I will never get back. I think that is what hurts me the most. The time I will never get back. I disconnected from everyone I cared about. The isolation at times was unbearable.
I have pictured this exact moment every day for 6 years. I never thought I would be able to stand here and give this statement. One thing I know for sure is that I chose to speak today because of the trial. The trial was one of the most difficult things I have had to sit through. Not because the questions were difficult. It is not hard to tell the truth when you live through the memories of it every single day. But instead, it was difficult because it was part two of the trauma I have endured.
When the incident happened in November 2016, I felt that I had no control. 5 years, 5 months and 24 days later, I would sit on the stand and be re-victimized with questions that attempted to pick apart my character and my integrity. I was asked trivial questions designed to try and find an excuse for a man that couldn’t even be bothered to save my correct name in his phone. I was forced to re-live my assault over and over and over again.
I was forced to listen to a phone call that I didn’t even remember without any choice of my own. I was forced to recount the most traumatic and humiliating moment of my life in front of a room full of strangers and the man that assaulted me. My control was once again, painfully taken away from me. Hearing the voice of the man that assaulted me while he stared me dead in the face was painful beyond words. I was shown a video of a woman that wasn’t even me and berated until I said it was. No one should ever have to endure the cruelty I faced in this court room.
The justice system is not built for survivors.
I chose to come to the courtroom without any of my loved ones because I could not bare to watch them suffer more than they already have. Because of the Victim/Witness Support Program I never felt alone. Being in the court room was the most traumatizing experience of my life aside from the assault but it was an honour for me to watch the powerful and dedicated women in this room. Thank you for believing me.
To my parents who love me to the ends of the earth, I know that seeing me go through this has been the most difficult part of your lives as well. The strength of my parents and friends are the reason I am here today and I hope I have made you proud.
And thank you your honour. You have a job to do, but you have allowed me to be heard.
In 47 days it will be exactly 6 years from the day of the assault. November 22nd will forever haunt me. But now I have a new day to celebrate. June 5th, the day I finally got to hear the word 'Guilty.'
Even after being found guilty of this crime, i watched the man who assaulted me walk free. Videos were posted online of the last few months of him dancing and living a normal life. The lack of empathy and remorse is not only painful, it’s terrifying.
I have carried around this pain for far too long and today I am giving it back. It was never mine and Mr. Hoggard has rightfully earned it.
Finally, before a sentence is given - I would like to offer a piece of advice to Mr. Hoggard. In his own words. ‘Don’t worry - it will be over soon.’”