Preliminary hearing begins in Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard’s sex assault case

Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard is set to appear in court Thursday morning as a preliminary hearing begins to determine if he will stand trial on sex assault charges.

The hearing in Toronto is expected to take two days.

Toronto police arrested the 35-year-old singer last summer after a four-month investigation and charged him 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 the age of 16 that allegedly occurred in the Toronto area in 2016.

Hoggard has denied engaging in non-consensual sexual behaviour, but has said he acted in a way that objectified women.

Preliminary hearings are held by a court to decide if there is enough evidence to send a case to trial. 

At the hearing, the Crown presents key parts of the evidence against an accused person.

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

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

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

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.