When Jacob Hoggard started texting a 15-year-old fan after a concert in a small town in Ontario in 2016, the girl was thrilled.
He was the lead singer of her favorite band, Hedley – a band she’s loved since she was 10 years old.
In their first text exchange, she said she sent him pictures of her at Hedley’s concerts at age 12 with her mother.
“Jeeeesus you are a tadpole,” Hoggard texted the teenage girl, according to photos from the messages she kept. “Don’t worry,” he said. “You’re nobody anymore.”
Earlier this month, after a four-week trial, a jury found Hoggard, 37, guilty of sexual assault causing bodily harm to an Ottawa young woman who testified that he raped her after she met him in a Toronto hotel room in 2016. It has been proven His separately innocence of groping teenage fans backstage after a concert and later raping her in a hotel room. He faces another pending charge of sexual assault causing bodily harm in relation to a third woman, and he has denied the allegations.
Hoggard said in court he did not remember the 15-year-old’s text messages after prom in Toronto – “I want you in this bed so badly” – but agreed with the Crown that he could have “tested the waters”. He went on to describe weaving a web of romantic lies with the goal of convincing the girl to send him nude pictures and have sex with him after she turned 16.
It’s behavior that isn’t “pretty” but legal, his lawyer told the jury in her closing speech, blaming the “rock star lifestyle” that Hoggard indulged in when the British Columbia-based pop-rock band began touring cities Big and Small Cross Country in the Mid-2000s.
It’s an excuse to go after teenage fans that Stacy Forrester would never like to hear again.
Forrester, director of education for Good Night Out, a nonprofit organization dedicated to gender violence prevention in live music and nightlife said Forrester.
Regardless of the criminal law regarding coming of age at 16, the lead singer of a band with a fan base of teenage girls and young women “is by nature you are in a position of power,” she said. She said initiating sex with a fan who was 15 years old – essentially to groom a teenage girl – was not an acceptable “lifestyle”.
Forrester and others who track or study sexual assault in the music industry say the testimony at the trial highlights all-too-familiar problems that need to change.
UK-based investigative reporter and director Tamana Rahman said the main questions were who knew what was happening and what if anything had been done to stop it. This is what she learned to focus on while producing a BBC Three documentary called Secrets of Dirty Music and in her search for an upcoming documentary on the same topic.
“When you’re in the music industry, especially as a performer, you suddenly run into all those people who tell you how amazing you are; your behavior often goes unchecked by the people around you,” Rahman said women in the music industry told her while preparing the documentary. “If you make a lot of money, it is very easy to believe that you are on top of the world and no one will hold you accountable for anything.”
She said that many of the people who can provide accountability depend financially on the star and their ability to continue making music and touring. “How do you hold the person who controls your job to account?”
After training more than 2,000 people and about 20 concert and music venues around sexual violence and creating safe spaces, progress has been slow, said Victoria Dandelion, founder and executive director of the Dandelion Initiative, an organization created in 2016 that provides gender-based violence. Education prevention and response.
Dandelion, who has worked as a musician in Toronto for a decade, agrees that sexual violence within the workplace is fueled by a culture of silence, in which employees don’t talk about incidents or are normalized under the “rock star” lifestyle umbrella, she said.
“There’s a misconception that ‘I’m a musician, and I’m in such a position of piety,'” she said, adding, “It’s actually more than ‘punk rock’ to have morals and values.”
When someone raises a concern, they may be labeled a troublemaker in what could be a small, isolated industry. Some of the women Rahman spoke to said that “music should be seen as a fun place” and if someone mentions something more serious, they spoil the fun, stop the party, and are not seen as “good for laughs” or a boy.
She said women in the industry who directly challenged the performers’ actions were described as “frozen”. They suffered from depression and sometimes left the industry.
Meanwhile, fans who try to talk about abuse face not only the fear of being disbelieved and being defamed as looking for a gesture or mockery of money from the artist’s fans, but the potential for defamation and legal intimidation lawsuits.
That’s why it can sometimes take multiple people to share their accounts publicly before the allegations are taken seriously.
Meanwhile, the persistence of the myth that all female fans are “groups” leads to them being viewed as sexual objects and helps create an environment in which exploitation can occur and where victims are rejected or disbelieved.
“It puts all women in a vulnerable position, where we are expected to want sex with a musician, and that doesn’t take into account what we might be there for,” said Rosemary Lucy Hale, a senior lecturer in the media. and popular culture at the University of Huddersfield, England.
Hill’s research on sexual assault in live music audiences has shown that the fear of not being believed is part of the reason why women don’t report being harassed to security.
Hill said it was “extremely brave” for the complainants to come forward. “People will say things like, ‘What about his career’… All that kind of empathetic language, but we really have to pause to remember how brave these women were and how powerless they felt like they could talk about what happened to them.”
There are still some Hedley fans who don’t believe the allegations against Hoggard are true, and they repeat many of the rape myths common on fan pages on the Internet. Why didn’t they come forward immediately? Why hide behind anonymity? They knew what they were getting into.
Other former fans said they were terrified. Lizzie Reno, a tattoo artist and owner of Speakeasy Tattoo in Toronto, told the star that she covered 13 Hedley’s tattoos for previous fans when the allegations surfaced. She said most of them “were not keen” to talk about it publicly, out of fear of backlash from fans who have relentless support for Hoggard.
For young women, access to a concert space is one of the few places where they can meet “like-minded people” without being under the direct supervision of parents or teachers, said Bryony Hannell, a university professor of sociology at the University of Sheffield, who is also in the UK. United
This is important, because it creates “a real sense of excitement and independence that comes with this and that can be an incredibly formative experience,” said Hanell, who specializes in feminist theory and fan studies.
Having access to these places, as public events, and feeling safe while doing so is of fundamental importance. “Girls and young women have every right to attend the party and feel safe, belonging and close to the other attendees,” she said.
She said engaging with a fan base is a crucial space for young women and people in the LGBTQ community to explore their independence, as well as their sexuality and sexual identity, in a safe way.
“The fear for the safety of the individual at these events is to limit the extent to which girls and young women feel they can access live music events as public events, as well as limiting their ability to participate in an essential pillar of cultural life,” she said.
Staff worked with the Dandelion Initiative to create a set of policies related to safety and gender-based violence prevention, said Sangeet Takhar, artistic director of the venue, at the Toronto Music Gallery, an annex concert venue.
“Through this suppression, every artist and partner, we all adhere to our code of conduct. Everyone we work with must read and accept our code of conduct…the behaviors we expect…how we deal with marginalized communities, and discrimination based on this,” she said. Sex, homophobia, ability” and more.
“We talk about enforcement in that too,” she said, since they have policies about who they can reach if there’s a problem, and options outside of managers in place.
She said Forrester is already preparing for the next set of allegations to emerge against someone else – something that will continue to happen until the music industry changes.
“Winning is the music industry that guides men to be the best and really understands consent and authority and puts checks and balances in their encounters and their lives and their interactions so that there is absolutely no doubt about their behavior in those places,” Forrester said.
“I long for the day when there is a music industry that respects, protects and honors teenage girls and young women.”
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