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Jacob Hoggard trial exposes misconceptions about consent: specialists

Jacob Hoggard trial exposes misconceptions about consent: specialists

TORONTO –The sexual assault trial of Canadian musician Jacob Hoggard turned on one central concern: consent.

The Hedley frontman was discovered responsible of 1 depend of sexual assault inflicting bodily hurt in opposition to considered one of two complainants on Sunday, however acquitted of the identical cost plus a depend of sexual interference associated to a teenage fan.

On the crux of the proceedings was a conflict about consent, as is usually the case in sexual assault trials, say observers.

The Crown alleged Hoggard violently and repeatedly raped a teenage fan and a younger Ottawa girl in separate incidents within the fall of 2016, whereas the defence argued the sexual encounters had been consensual.

Excessive-profile circumstances like Hoggard’s have the ability to form our understanding of consent, legal professionals and advocates say, exposing dangerous misconceptions that pervade the courts and society at massive.

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“It’s nice to be making an attempt to shine a lightweight on a few of these tales and in addition worrisome,” Toronto felony and constitutional lawyer Megan Stephens mentioned in an interview forward of the decision.

“These sorts of circumstances are those that make folks wonder if they need to come ahead and report what has occurred to them.”

Canada has a number of the most progressive legal guidelines on the books about consent in sexual assault circumstances, mentioned Stephens. The difficulty lies in how the letter of the legislation is utilized, she mentioned.

The Prison Code requires that consent be affirmatively communicated by way of an individual’s phrases or conduct, that means by way of indicators that point out “sure,” fairly than the absence of a “no.” Consent could be withdrawn at any level in a sexual encounter.

Ontario Superior Courtroom Justice Gillian Roberts advised the jury deciding Hoggard’s destiny that consent within the context of a sexual assault case is about whether or not the complainant “in her thoughts wished the sexual touching to happen,” citing a provincial attraction courtroom ruling.

Stephens, a former Crown lawyer, mentioned this “subjective commonplace” means many sexual assault circumstances come all the way down to jurors’ assessments of the credibility of the complainant and accused based mostly on the proof they current.

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Jurors usually do their finest to stay to the legislation, she mentioned, however id can affect their determinations and what and whose proof is to be believed.

Many observers have famous the perceived gender imbalance on Hoggard’s jury, which appeared to include 10 males and two girls.

“We’ve discovered rather a lot over the previous couple of years about implicit biases and the way these can have an effect on our understandings and experiences. And I feel the jury system is just not immune from that,” mentioned Stephens, who advocates for ladies’s rights within the justice system.

“It’s exhausting for folks to generally perceive the experiences of others once they’ve by no means been in that place, whether or not it’s a male juror making sense of a feminine complainant or a white juror making sense of the experiences of a Black girl.”

Canadian courts have been grappling with the “myths and stereotypes” that plague the authorized course of, however even judges are vulnerable to fall prey to them, mentioned Pam Hrick, govt director and common counsel at Ladies’s Authorized Training and Motion Fund.

Canada’s highest courtroom has issued various rulings in recent times discovering that decrease courts erred of their software of sexual assault legislation, mentioned Hrick, serving as a course correction in a system that has subjected complainants to unfair scrutiny.

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This reveals how the social reckoning of the #MeToo motion has reverberated by way of the courts, however there’s nonetheless work to shut the hole between Canadian legislation and our evolving understanding of consent, mentioned Hrick.

“There’s a lag, I feel, generally between public understanding the appliance or growth of the legislation,” she mentioned. “We should be vigilant in persevering with to push for change and be persevering with to attempt to safeguard a number of the good points that now we have made.”

Farrah Khan, supervisor of Consent Comes First at Toronto Metropolitan College’s Workplace of Sexual Violence Help and Training, mentioned the Hoggard trial illustrates how misconceptions about intercourse and consent persist each out and in of the courtroom.

Defence legal professionals alleged the complainants lied about being raped to cowl up their embarrassment after being rejected by a “rock star.”

The defence narrative fed into acquainted tropes, such because the “jilted lover” embittered about unreturned affections and groupies who fall underneath a well-known musician’s sexual thrall, mentioned Khan.

Click to play video: 'Jury deliberations continue in Jacob Hoggard sex assault'

Jury deliberations proceed in Jacob Hoggard intercourse assault

Jury deliberations proceed in Jacob Hoggard intercourse assault

There have been energy dynamics at play within the case, equivalent to variations in age and social standing, that Canada’s consent legal guidelines don’t account for, however can nonetheless affect how sexual violence survivors course of their very own experiences, she added.

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“It’s vital for survivors to know it, as a result of generally you possibly can gaslight your self in these conditions,” she mentioned. “Simply since you wished to see somebody, simply since you wished to kiss somebody doesn’t imply you need to be sexually assaulted.”

The Canadian Ladies’s Basis performed a web based survey of greater than 1,500 Canadians in 2018 that discovered solely 28 per cent of respondents totally understood what it means to offer consent, a drop from 33 per cent in 2015 earlier than the #MeToo motion emerged.

With so many younger individuals who grew up listening to Hedley retaining observe of the Hoggard case, Khan mentioned she’s involved the subsequent era will undergo related confusion until we begin prioritizing consent and pleasure in intercourse training.

“The problem is that we deal with consent like a checkbox,” she mentioned. “Consent is a few dialog… And it’s ongoing, it’s reversible.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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