Tag: assault

Kevin Spacey formally charged with sexual assault in U.K.

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Actor Kevin Spacey was formally charged Monday with four counts of sexual assault against three men, London’s Metropolitan Police said in a news release.

Spacey was also charged with causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent, police said. He’s due to appear in Westminster Magistrates Court on Thursday.

Spacey said in a statement last month that he will “voluntarily appear in the U.K. as soon as can be arranged and defend myself against these charges, which I am confident will prove my innocence.”

Two assaults against one person are alleged to have happened in London in March 2005, Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service said last month.

Another assault is alleged to have happened in London in August 2008. The same alleged victim also reported the allegation of sexual activity without consent, also in August 2008.

The sexual assault is alleged to have happened in April 2013 in Gloucestershire, a county around 100 miles west of London.

Spacey was removed from his starring role in Netflix’s “House of Cards” in November 2017 as sexual assault and misconduct allegations against him mounted. 

Actor Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of making sexual advances toward him three decades ago, when Rapp was 14 years old.

A judge ruled last week that Spacey must stand trial in a New York federal court after Rapp filed a lawsuit accusing him of the assault.

Rapp’s allegations were first made public in an article by BuzzFeed News in 2017.

Spacey said in a statement on Twitter that he didn’t remember the alleged incident involving Rapp, but he wrote: “If I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years.”

Days later, filmmaker Tony Montana told Radar Online that Spacey groped him at a bar in Los Angeles in 2003. And Mexican actor Roberto Cavazos said he encountered Spacey at the Old Vic theater in London, where Spacey was the artistic director from 2004 until 2015. Cavazos said Spacey would frequent the theater’s bar and “squeeze whoever caught his attention.”

Later that year, the Old Vic said it had received 20 allegations of “inappropriate behavior” against Spacey during his time there. Spacey started acting at the theater in the 1990s.

At the time, Spacey’s publicist said he “is taking the time necessary to seek evaluation and treatment.”

In 2018, Spacey was charged with indecent assault in Nantucket, Massachusetts, in an incident involving the teenage son of a former Boston TV news anchor. Spacey pleaded not guilty, and the charge was dropped when the alleged victim withdrew a civil lawsuit.


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No consent law in SD leaves survivors of sexual assault in legal limbo

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Editor’s note: This story features descriptions of sexual assault. 

When Penny saw someone get off the Sioux Area Metro bus, she jumped. It didn’t matter who it was, because in her mind, it could be her attacker.

She doesn’t have a car, so she relies on public transportation, and Penny’s constant state of alert is so bad even her daughter has noticed. 

“She never really looked over her shoulder, now she does,” her daughter said. “She’s more jumpy.”

On the west side of Sioux Falls earlier this spring, the panic crept up Penny’s spine. Her hands started to shake as she walked down the street toward her job as a life skill educator at a treatment facility.

“I’m afraid to go to work, because that’s where he used to live. That whole area, I’m always looking over my shoulder,” Penny, 54, said.

Penny talks about her experience as a survivor of sexual assault on Thursday, April 14, 2022, at her home in Sioux Falls.

Penny says she was sexually assaulted at the end of July 2021, but she wasn’t sure if it rose to the level of rape. She never said yes, but she also never said no.

She froze, unable to give consent, unable to fight back and unsure that if she did, she would leave the room alive.

Her attacker was not charged.

That’s because in South Dakota law, there is no definition of “consent.” Therefore, if someone is sexually assaulted, it becomes incredibly difficult to establish means to prosecute.

A Minnehaha County jury asked Judge Bradley Zell for the legal definition of consent while deliberating a sexual assault case in November 2019.

As part of an ongoing Argus Leader investigation into how the state handles sex crimes under the law, the lack of a consent law leaves survivors like Penny falling into the cracks. Some cases have gone to trial, but survivors don’t always get the justice they seek, especially if their case doesn’t have enough evidence to even make it to trial. That doesn’t include survivors who choose not to come forward about their assault.


In a span of 8 days, Hyderabad witnessed sexual assault of 3 minors

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In a span of 8 days, Hyderabad witnessed sexual assault of 3 minors

Hyderabad: Even before grim memories of the Jubilee Hills rape case could fade away, two alleged rape of minors has sent shock waves across the city. The two rape cases came to light after Kalapathar police station and Moghalpura police station arrested three accused on Sunday.

Opposition is blaming the government for protecting the accused in the Jubilee Hills rape case because the politician’s son is also involved in the gruesome crime.


Under Kalapathar police station limit, a 16-year-old girl was allegedly raped on May 31. Twenty-one-year-old Mohammed Sufiyan, who works as an event manager, has been arrested and will be produced in court on Monday. According to police, the victim works at a textile shop. When she was heading home on the day of the incident, she was intercepted by the accused who asked for her phone number. She was later manipulated into going with him. He took the victim to his house in the Langar Houz area, where he raped her.

The victim complained of stomach pain on Sunday. Later her mother approached the police. With the help of Bharosa team counselors, the police recorded the victim’s statement and arrested the accused. Police registered a case under sections 363, 376(2) of IPC & Sec 5 & 6 of the POCSO Act against the accused.


In Moghalpura, an 11-year-old girl was allegedly kidnapped and sexually assaulted by two men on May 31. They have been identified as Shaik Kaleem Ali alias Kaleem, 36, a cab driver from Kishanbagh, Bahadurpura, and Mohammed Luqman Ahmed Yazdani alias Luqman, 36, of Muslim Colony in Kondurg village.

On May 31, police received a complaint from the girl’s relatives that she was missing from May 31 evening. A case was registered under section 363 IPC and police launched the hunt. In the wee hours of June 1, patrolling staff spotted the girl and brought her to the Police Station. Later she was sent to Bharosa Centre for recording her statement. She said at about 6 pm on May 31, she was going to her parent’s house. The accused Kaleem offered her a lift to drop her home as she was not having any money.

Kareem lured took her in his car and on the way he picked up Luqman. They both took her to the house of accused Luqman at Kondurg village, where they raped her. Since the girl was crying with fear, Kareem dropped her at Sultanshahi at 5 am. Based on the statement, police added section 363 IPC to 366 (A), 376 (2) (n), 376 DB, 376 AB of IPC, and 9 (m) of POCSO Act 2012 to the FIR. Police formed two teams. On June 3, the accused persons were sent to judicial custody.

Jubilee Hills

The 17-year-old girl was returning from a party when she was allegedly sexually assaulted by a group of youngsters in a moving vehicle in the Jubilee Hills on May 28. It was reported that the son of an influential person was allegedly involved in the incident along with four others.

Police had earlier registered a case under section 354 (outrage of modesty), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of the IPC, and under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act against the accused. The girl was sent for medical examination. After it was found that she had been raped, police later added section 376 (gang rape) of the IPC to the FIR. According to the FIR, on the afternoon of 28 May, the girl went to a party at Amnesia & Insomnia Pub located on Road No. 36, Jubilee Hills. The party was hosted by her friends. At about 5.30 pm, a few guys misbehaved with her outside the pub. They also inflicted minor injuries on her neck.

Police initially registered a case of “outraging modesty” based on a complaint lodged by the victim’s family. Investigators sent the girl for medical examination. When the woman officers at the Bharosa center interacted with the minor, she reportedly revealed the sexual assault. With the help of call records and CCTV footage, police were able to identify all the five culprits.

Telangana governor Tamilisai Soundarrajan on Sunday ordered chief secretary Somesh Kumar and DGP M. Mahender Reddy to submit a report on the gang-rape case within two days. The governor said she was deeply anguished over the heinous incident and has therefore sought a report on the same. The fourth accused, who is a child in conflict with the law (CCL), was apprehended by the police on Sunday morning. So far, four accused, including three minors, have been apprehended. Another accused Omair Khan is still on the run. Officials confirmed that one of the juveniles is a politician’s son.


India: Why justice eludes many Dalit survivors of sexual violence | Sexual Assault News

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Mumbai, India – In February last year, Divya Pawar*, 35, left home after a dispute with her husband to visit her parents.

As she waited for a bus in rural Solapur in India’s western Maharashtra state, two dominant-caste men – one of whom was a police officer – stopped and offered her a ride.

However, instead of taking her to her parents’ house, they abducted her and locked her in a tin shed on a farm belonging to one of the men. Out of earshot for miles around, over the next five days and four nights, the two men raped her.

Eventually, they called her husband and informed him she could be found at a hotel half an hour from his house.

Once home, Divya’s husband asked her to perform a “purity test”. The ritual involved pulling a five rupee coin out of a pot of boiling oil – a “pure” woman would be able to pull the coin out without burning herself, her husband assured her.

He recorded a video of her attempting to pull the coin out. Within days, the video went viral in the village via WhatsApp and an activist stepped in to help Divya register a First Information Report (FIR), the first of many steps to see justice served.

‘Targets of violence’

What happened with Divya is not unique. Crimes of a sexually violent nature disproportionately impact women and girls from India’s less privleged castes, mainly Dalits.

Dalits, previously known as the “untouchables”, fall at the bottom of India’s complex caste hierarchy and have been facing discrimination and persecution by privileged caste groups for centuries, despite strict Indian laws to protect the community.

NCWL frequently hosts grassroots educational initiatives to educate women about their rights [Courtesy: Sandhya Devi]

According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s latest data, there was a 45 percent increase in reported rapes of Dalit women between 2015 and 2020. The data said 10 rapes of Dalit women and girls were reported every day in India, on average.

According to the National Family Health Survey 2015-2016 (PDF), sexual violence rates were highest among women from Scheduled Tribes (Adivasi or Indigenous Indians) at 7.8 percent, followed by Scheduled Castes (Dalits) at 7.3 percent, and Otherwise Backward Castes (OBCs) at 5.4 percent. For comparison’s sake, the rate was 4.5 percent for women who were not marginalised by caste or tribe.

However, these figures are “merely the tip of the iceberg”, according to a recent report by the Dalit Human Rights Defenders Network (DHRDN), Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and the National Council of Women Leaders (NCWL).

The report, released in March this year, analyses access to justice by documenting the experiences of survivors of caste-based sexual violence in 13 Indian states: Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.

“Caste atrocities are not just based on caste; they’re also based on caste and gender. It’s Dalit women’s bodies that become targets of violence. For the majority of Dalit girls, the extreme forms of violence they face is sexual violence,” lawyer and rights activist Manjula Pradeep, also the director of campaigns for NCWL and DHRDN, told Al Jazeera.

Indian law has special provisions for crimes perpetrated on people marginalised by caste and tribe under the Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Act, including state support and special courts to streamline cases filed under the law.

However, for cases to be tried under the law, survivors must first report these crimes to the police, following which an investigation occurs, and only then does the case go to trial. At each step, the report notes access to justice is limited for women from less privileged castes, especially in rural spaces.

Victim shaming and social pressure

In Pawar’s case, her husband absconded – and remains so – but those accused of raping her were behind bars within six days.

But this was a rarity in cases where Dalit women have faced sexual assault at the hands of dominant-caste men. “This case might not have ever been successfully resolved were it not for the video,” said Prachi Salve, the research centre coordinator at Manuski, an NGO that works with grassroots activists and victims of caste-based crimes.

“Victim shaming is common in these cases, there’s a lot of pressure [on victims],”  said Salve. The victim shaming extends to the surrounding village, and, at times even the family members, she added.

This often means there will be no justice. Owing to their castes, said Salve, “these women are often farmers, labourers – they depend on [dominant] caste people for work.”

When pressure and threats – particularly in rural areas – are too much to bear, victims often leave home. “Two cases happened in Maharashtra recently where we were unable to trace the victims after being in constant contact with them initially,” said Salve.

Victim shaming when it comes to law enforcement, however, is especially troubling, Salve said. “When I interact with the police, they [often] say it was the victim’s fault.”

Sexual violence against Dalits
Dalit Human Rights Defenders Network members at Tisiauta police station in Bihar [Courtesy: Ranju Kumari]

In most cases, an FIR was registered only after the intervention of NGOs and activists, the report said. On average, according to the report, registering an FIR could take up to three months. Additionally, since medical examinations are carried out once an FIR is registered, these examinations often don’t provide adequate evidence for the case in a court of law.

Moreover, the FIRs don’t guarantee justice.

“The police don’t listen to the survivor,” said Sangharsh Apte, an assistant coordinator at Manuski. “They don’t write the story completely as described by the survivor and they don’t fill in the correct sections of the FIR.”

In 15 percent of the cases where survivors or families of victims were able to get an FIR registered, justice was stalled due to the police not including applicable provisions of the PoA Act.

As a result, grassroots activists and fact-finders from organisations such as Manuski become crucial in seeing such cases through to the courtroom. “[We] fill out applications for addition of sections in the FIR when these are missing,” said Apte.

Bharti Ghosh, a spokeswoman for India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party told Al Jazeera that justice in cases of sexual violence “must be delivered at the earliest as justice delayed is justice denied”.

“I am of the same opinion – whatever be the cause, it is the most grievous of offences and the offender must be punished in such a way that brings relief to the victim,” she said. “And when the law says equal opportunity for all, speedy justice must be there for all victims  of this horrendous offence.”

Hurdles in seeking justice

The PoA Act also requires investigations, including interviews with the victim, to be carried out on camera. “It’s a bit expensive, but they have budgetary provisions for it,” said Apte, but this “provision is often unknown to the investigating officers and the state machinery”.

Additionally, the DHRDN report found that the rules of the health ministry’s Medico-Legal Care Guidelines for Survivors or Victims of Sexual Violence were either poorly implemented or ignored altogether.

“At the time of medical [examinations] confidentiality doesn’t exist,” said Salve, adding that “reports are carried out in general wards mostly by male doctors” and “two-finger testing is still going on”.

The two-finger test is an intrusive unscientific examination used to detect a ruptured hymen. It was banned by India’s Supreme Court in 2013. Of the survivors included in the report, 22 percent reported having undergone a two-finger test following a rape.

Sexual violence against Dalits
A DHRD member interviews people in Bihar state’s Nawada district [Courtesy: Ranju Kumari]

The report notes that the distance to the court for survivors “creates an additional financial burden” for them and their families, adding that although the PoA Act requires that special courts be set up to try offences and “to provide travelling and maintenance expenses during the investigation and trial”, in practice these expenses are rarely provided to survivors, who are unaware of their rights.

“We talk about fast-track courts, but it doesn’t happen like that,” said Pradeep. “There is a trial that’s been going on for the last 21 years in Gujarat [in] a village called Pankhan […] she was asked to re-identify the accused, who had [gang-raped] her. Some of them have died.”

“Despite there being huge allocations under the implementation of PoA, we do not see basic infrastructure in place like special courts, speedy trials, legal aid etc,” activist and scholar Riya Singh, co-founder of Dalit Women Fight, an organisation that advocates for the rights of Dalit women, told Al Jazeera.

“For the past two years, an amount of 600 crores ($77.4m) has been sanctioned under the Strengthening of Machinery for Enforcement of Protection of Civil Rights Act,1995 and the Scheduled Castes-Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989. We do not know where this money is going,” she said.

Last year, Dalit activists noted discrepancies between the allocated and prescribed budgets for the welfare of the Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes.

*Name changed to protect the woman’s identity.


Milwaukee activist Frank Nitty will not be charged in sex assault case

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Milwaukee County prosecutors will not file changes against prominent activist Frank “Nitty” Sensabaugh after four women told police he had sexually assaulted them.

Two prosecutors who reviewed the reports at the District Attorney’s Office said they believed the women but did not think they could prove a case in court.

Sensabaugh has denied the allegations and his attorney has said the activist was falsely accused.

The decision closes an investigation that started in November 2020 when Sensabaugh was arrested after a woman told police he had sexually assaulted her.

At the time, Sensabaugh livestreamed his arrest to his tens of thousands of Facebook followers, naming the woman he believed had made the accusation.

Soon after, three more women separately went to police and described experiences of unwanted or coerced oral sex with Sensabaugh.


Toxic Fan Culture Around Sexual Assault Cases Forces Us to Re-Examine Our Relationship With Celebrities

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No sooner did the internet erupt in celebratory fanfare over Johnny Depp’s supposed vindication, than a different celebrity became the focus of another concerted rescue campaign. Marilyn Manson, an alternative rock personality, was accused of multiple charges of sexual assault by several people — including Westworld star Evan Rachel Wood. Manson then filed a libel lawsuit against Wood that is pending in court, but not many are optimistic about how it will play out despite damning evidence against Manson in the public record.

In the last few days, Twitter began seeing a familiar hashtag trending with a different name: #IStandWithMarilynManson. Some social media users have clubbed Manson into the Johnny Depp category: of supposed victims of a particular archetype of femme fatale, one whose modus operandi is that of played-up victimhood to enact their twisted revenge fantasy. Worse is how Evan Rachel Wood is now being doubted along the same lines as Amber Heard — with many claiming they’ve always believed Depp and Manson to be innocent and Heard and Wood to be scheming, manipulative liars.

The Johnny Depp case may be the beginning of the end for #MeToo — in that it heralded a post-feminist, post-truth narrative about the possibility of women as perpetrators unleashing terrible injustice over hapless men. But it is at this point that we must stop to examine the role of fan cultures in #MeToo itself.

Related on The Swaddle:

Why We Feel Close to Celebrities We Have Never Met

In its most flammable phase, the movement involved big names. Indeed, the whole point of the movement was to expose how men with fame, power, money, and most importantly, influence, used a potent combination of systemic advantages to cover up their misdeeds on a systemic level. When we think #MeToo, we think of celebrities — highprofile men who have been “brought down.” Many have noted how the response to the Johnny Depp trial is a post-#MeToo backlash — almost serving as revenge for all the ways in which widely admired men have been wronged by not just women who accuse them, but by the larger culture itself.

The clarion call to “believe women” arguably began in recognition of the fact that power imbalances between the famous men accused of sexual assault and the survivors who accused them — more often than not, women adjacent to fame but never quite in its spotlight — mean that our culture more readily takes the side of the more powerful. In the case of men who are famous — they’ve built a relationship with their fans over years of storytelling and art that, in many cases, shaped an image of masculinity that fans emulated and admired. In the process, a parasocial relationship is established wherein accusing a charismatic figure like Johnny Depp is like accusing a role model around whose image many have built up their own personalities and fantasies.

The result is that the discrediting of accusers is not just limited to attempts at discrediting their “evidence” (an already slippery slope, considering that evidence is hard to obtain in cases of sexual assault and intimate partner violence) — it becomes viciously, vindictively, personal. Many of the memes about Amber Heard were focused not on discrediting what she had to say, but on her entire personhood itself — calling her names and giving her monickers whose entire purpose was to insult and demean. When legions of people do it on behalf of a man who doesn’t know any of them personally, it is time to step back and question why so many felt that they had a personal stake in it.

Related on The Swaddle:

How Celeb Fan Culture Minimizes Accountability

It has to do with how entertainment culture deliberately fosters parasocial relationships that make people feel like they know someone even when they don’t. From late-night talk shows, promotions, red carpet interviews, and highly publicized philanthropy campaigns (think Johnny Depp’s visit to a children’s hospital as Jack Sparrow), artists’ public facades are often engineered in a way as to feel personal. It doesn’t matter if they really are as kind, jovial, and funny as they seem — the complicated landscape of PR ensures that every single move, gesture, and word uttered by celebrities is spun to build a brand out of them. The thing about brands, moreover, is that they exist to sell. Replace Johnny Depp with any charismatic, disruptive male celebrity figure and you get a brand that has successfully been bought by legions of fans. This creates a culture of one-sided love and fealty towards what these figures represent rather than who they are.

It is true, to an extent, that celebrities are inextricable from “The Culture” — that amorphous, slippery thing that is hard to define and yet is felt by everyone in a moment of change. But they do also tend to become the locus of cultural changes such as the ones #MeToo tried to enact — in the process, fan cultures intervene in the lives of many systematically marginalized people and prevent their access to any form of justice, closure, or even participation in how a cultural moment plays out. Nothing spells this out more clearly than how the Johnny Depp trial has already begun turning survivors of domestic violence away from courts. “This case is my worst fear playing out on a public stage… [It] tells me that [my ex] was right. If he chose to, he could destroy and humiliate me beyond repair,” one survivor told Rolling Stone.

It is no coincidence, therefore, that many have called for greater media literacy and awareness in the wake of the Depp-Heard trial to try to tackle a culture where individuals develop deeply personal investments in celebrities. But in the case of people who give us art, this is arguably much more difficult. It’s why Woody Allen — a much-loved, muchemulated auteur filmmaker — continues to receive much support from fans despite serious allegations of sexual abuse against his step-daughter, Dylan Farrow. And it’s also why many survivor advocates don’t hold out much hope for the Marilyn Manson case to turn out differently.

In being the representational images of cultural shifts, fans’ relationships with celebrities ensure that the shifts become about the celebrities themselves. In the process, the opportunities to shift anything real are lost, and the communities depending on them falling through the cracks.

Toxic Fan Culture Around Sexual Assault Cases Forces Us to Rethink Our Relationship With Celebrities

Hoggard verdict: Singer found guilty of sexual assault

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Warning: This story contains disturbing details

TORONTO – Jacob Hoggard will likely face more than two years in prison, an Ontario judge said Sunday after the Hedley frontman was found guilty of raping an Ottawa woman but not guilty of groping and raping a teenage fan.

Hoggard, 37, hugged his wife in a Toronto courtroom after jurors delivered their verdict in the early evening. His wife wiped away tears after Hoggard returned to his seat.

The verdict capped off six days of deliberations that saw the jury — which appeared to be composed of 10 men and two women — twice declare itself deadlocked on “some counts” before pushing forward. Jurors also asked several questions on legal issues, many related to consent.

Crown attorney Jill Witkin described Hoggard’s crime as “brazen, brutal, degrading, traumatic” as she asked the court to revoke his bail until his sentencing.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Gillian Roberts rejected the Crown’s request but said stricter conditions were warranted, noting the musician would likely face a prison sentence, which entails more than two years behind bars.

A hearing on bail is scheduled for Monday morning, with a sentencing hearing expected this summer.

Hoggard had pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual assault causing bodily harm and one of sexual interference, a charge that refers to the sexual touching of someone under 16.

During trial, prosecutors alleged Hoggard groped the teen after a Hedley show in Toronto in April 2016, then violently raped her in a Toronto-area hotel room later that year after she turned 16. They alleged he then violently raped the Ottawa woman in a downtown Toronto hotel in November 2016.

Both complainants testified they were left bleeding and bruised. They each said Hoggard slapped them, spit in their mouths and called them derogatory names such as “slut” and “whore” during the encounters, and that he restricted their breathing at one point.

The younger complainant said Hoggard pushed her face into the pillows until she thought she would pass out, while the Ottawa woman said he choked her so hard she feared she would die. The second complainant also said that on one occasion, Hoggard dragged her by the legs into the bathroom and asked her to urinate on him, then said he would urinate on her, both of which she refused.

The Crown urged jurors to consider the similarities between the events recalled by two women who have never met or spoken to each other, arguing they reflect a pattern of conduct.

Hoggard, meanwhile, testified during trial that he had consensual, “passionate” sex with the complainants, and he didn’t touch the teen sexually until after she turned 16.

“I knew when she turned 16,” Hoggard testified, adding he made sure “to be responsible and not break the law. ”

He denied choking or restricting the complainants’ breathing but said some of the other things they described – including slapping, spitting, name-calling and urination – were among his sexual preferences and therefore could have happened. He described the type of slapping he enjoys as more of a gentle tapping.

He testified that his memory of the encounters wasn’t clear, but he knew the complainants consented based on their verbal and non-verbal cues, and because it was his practice to pay attention to his sexual partners.

Defence lawyers alleged the women lied about being raped after Hoggard rejected them because they were embarrassed and upset that he had used them for sex.

Since Hoggard acknowledged having sex with both complainants, the case turned on the issue of consent, with jurors left to determine whether the encounters were violent rapes, as the complainants alleged, or consensual one-night stands, as the singer maintained.

Jurors spent much of the weekend replaying the bulk of the testimony given by the complainants and Hoggard regarding the hotel encounters.

They were told that if they found the complainants didn’t consent, they should have “little difficulty” concluding Hoggard knew or willfully ignored the fact they were not consenting.

Over the course of the roughly month-long trial, jurors heard dramatically different portrayals of Hoggard, a musician whose band, Hedley, rose to fame after he came in third on the reality show Canadian Idol in 2004.

Hoggard’s lawyers described him as an insecure, flawed man who sought validation from women through frequent one-night stands while touring, even while in a relationship. He had amassed a roster of women in various cities and would get in touch with them when he was in town, at times arranging transportation to bring them to his hotel, they said.

The singer may have been cavalier to women and inconsiderate of their feelings, but he is not a “sadistic serial rapist,” defence lawyer Megan Savard said in her closing arguments to the jury.

The Crown, for its part, painted Hoggard as an “entitled sexual opportunist” who didn’t think he had to take no for an answer when it came to satisfying his “unusual” sexual desires.

Witkin argued in her final submissions that the singer couldn’t specify what sounds or gestures the complainants made to signal consent, particularly for acts such as slapping or spitting.

Court heard the younger complainant had been a Hedley fan since childhood and first met the singer after a concert when she was 12. Her parents exchanged numbers with Hoggard, and the teen began communicating with him directly in April 2016 when she was 15.

Later that month, Hoggard arranged to have her and two friends come to a Hedley show in Toronto, court heard. He sent a car to her hometown north of the city and gave the three teens backstage passes, jurors heard.

The complainant testified that after the show, they met Hoggard backstage and he repeatedly tried to touch her buttocks while taking photos together. She also said he tried to kiss her neck at one point. Hoggard testified that did not happen, and that the complainant was the one who jumped in his arms.

At some point over the next few months, the pair began exchanging nude photos, court heard.

The complainant testified Hoggard told her he loved her, that he saw a future with her and wanted her to bear his children. The singer testified he lied because he enjoyed the validation and wanted to have sex with the complainant once she turned 16.

The complainant said the two of them eventually made plans to meet in Toronto in September. She testified she did not plan or want to have sex that day and thought that while Hoggard might try to kiss her, he would respect her boundaries if she said no.

Court heard Hoggard sent a car to pick her up and take her to his hotel near Pearson International Airport on Sept. 30. The defence argued the complainant knew where she was going.

Once there, the complainant said Hoggard aggressively kissed her, then pushed her on the bed, took her clothes off, performed oral sex on her and then repeatedly raped her vaginally and orally. She said he also attempted to do so anally but was unsuccessful.

The complainant said she texted a friend while Hoggard was in the shower, asking that friend to call and pretend to be her work so she would have an excuse to leave early. She testified Hoggard then called the driver and escorted her down, saying he’d had a great time and couldn’t wait to see her again.

Phone records presented in court show the complainant called her friend at 1:26 p.m. that day, and the driver’s log indicated they left the hotel around 1 p.m.

The defence suggested the complainant did not pretend to be called in to work but was instead asked to leave by Hoggard, which hurt her feelings. Prosecutors argued the complainant may not remember the exact timeline but she was adamant that she contacted her friend in an effort to leave the hotel.

Court heard the second complainant came across Hoggard on the dating app Tinder in early November. She eventually agreed to travel to Toronto later that month to have sex with him, the woman testified.

Once they arrived in a room, the woman testified he immediately pushed her against the wall and forced a kiss on her, and when she pushed him off, he told her she could leave.

She said she found him rude but thought things would eventually be fine adding she didn’t consider leaving because she had nowhere else to go until her train ride back to Ottawa.

Later, however, she testified Hoggard pushed her on the bed, took off her clothes and repeatedly raped her anally, orally and vaginally.

Eventually he told her he had to go and the complainant took a taxi to a Tim Hortons to wait for her train, she said. Hoggard told her they’d had a good time and he looked forward to seeing her again, she said.

Hoggard testified he didn’t actually have to go, simply wanted to get on with his day and had no intention of seeing her again.

At some point, the complainant texted Hoggard. She said she told him he had raped her; Hoggard contended she told him she was unhappy with their encounter.

They spoke on the phone in the days that followed. Hoggard testified he recorded the call to protect himself.

In the call, which was played in court, Hoggard spoke in a soothing tone and told the complainant he was shocked by her text, he had been attentive and they’d had a good time.

The complainant, sounding hoarse, told him they had different opinions and repeatedly accused him of speaking from a script.

She told Hoggard she needed to get stitches in her vagina and she was planning to speak to a lawyer, claims she acknowledged on the stand weren’t true. She told the court she lied on the call to get a reaction – and, she hoped, an apology – from him.

The defence argued that though both complainants said they had genital bleeding and bruises after the encounters, no injuries were noted on their medical records.

Both complainants reported their allegations to police in early 2018 and Hoggard was charged that summer.

The musician has recently been charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm against a third complainant in an incident alleged to have taken place in Kirkland Lake, Ont., on June 25, 2016. Hedley played the Kirkland Lake Homecoming festival on June 24 of that year.

The new charge could not be reported on until jurors in the Toronto trial began their deliberations to avoid the risk of tainting the jury.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2022.

Are you a survivor of sexual assault seeking support? The Canadian Women’s Foundation has a list of National and provincial resources for those in need of help that can be found here.


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Sexual assault evidence backlog eliminated in Illinois

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The Illinois State Police announced Friday that all sexual assault evidence is being processed within the 180-day timeframe outlined in state law – bringing to zero the number of legally “backlogged” cases that rose as high as 1,815 in March 2019.

It’s the first time all such evidence is being processed within 180 days as required by a 2010 law, according to the governor’s office.  

“We have finally reached this mark that the General Assembly put down, this mark of 180 days, over a decade ago. Complying with that, and finally getting under 180 days, is just the first phase of that enterprise and we are going to be holding ourselves accountable to reaching the 90-day mark in the next phase,” Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly said at a news conference.


Workplace sex assault investigation caused ‘most difficult 7 months of my life,’ transit worker says

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WARNING: This story contains claims of sexual assault that some people might find distressing.

A Canada Line attendant who alleges she was sexually assaulted and harassed by her boss at a company party has filed suit against her employers, alleging she was left traumatized and unable to work because of their investigation into the incident.

A.H.’s lawsuit says she chose not to speak up about what happened to her at the time of the 2010 party, but was compelled to participate when Protrans B.C., which operates the rapid-transit Canada Line in Metro Vancouver, opened an investigation 11 years later. Because she is the alleged victim of a sexual assault, CBC has agreed not to use her full name. 

She alleges the company learned about her experience while looking into someone else’s complaint against the same supervisor.

A.H.’s notice of claim says she was “profoundly and negatively” affected by the investigation, which ended with no consequences for supervisor A.D., who still has control over nearly every aspect of her working life. 

She said she and her husband, who both work under A.D., are now off work because of stress from this process.

“This has been the most difficult seven months of my life, my family’s life, all because I told the truth. I now understand why people — women in particular — have been afraid to speak up [about sexual assault],” A.H. told CBC in a written statement.

Her notice of claim, filed March 1 in B.C. Supreme Court, alleges A.D. is liable for sexual battery and harassment, and holds Protrans B.C. and parent company SNC-Lavalin vicariously liable, saying they violated their standards and duty of care to employees.

In their May 13 response, the corporations claim their internal investigation found the alleged assault “did not occur, as alleged or at all.” It goes on to say that all reasonable steps were taken to keep workers safe.

The companies argue that because A.H. has filed a mental health claim with WorkSafeBC related to this experience and her union has filed a grievance, the courts have no jurisdiction to hear the case.

A.D. has yet to file a response to the claims against him, and has not responded to requests for comment. 

According to A.H.’s claim, he retains power over her “training, working hours, variance approvals, job security and job duties.”

‘Entitled to choose’ whether to report

The alleged assault happened at a party at the River Rock Casino in Richmond, B.C., held to celebrate the end of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, according to the notice of claim.

A.H. alleges A.D. came up behind her at the party, thrust his erect penis on her upper thigh, and pressed himself against her body.

Later that night, while she was sleeping in her hotel room, she alleges A.D. “went door to door at the hotel, screaming the plaintiff’s name and searching for the plaintiff, which threatened and intimidated the plaintiff.”

The claim states that in the aftermath of that night, “as a survivor, [she] was entitled to choose and did choose not to pursue anything” in terms of reporting A.D. 

“Many years later [in] 2021, the corporate defendants made her do so, when another complainant made a complaint against [A.D.] and opened an investigation as to his present and historical conduct,” the claim says.

A.H. told CBC that she had just started the job at the time, and “What new employee would want to rock the boat at their new career? It was easier at the time to put it in the back of my mind.”

A.H. says she made the choice not to report her alleged sexual assault at the time it happened because she was a new employee. (Ken stocker/Shutterstock)

When the 2021 investigation was launched, she said she agreed to be interviewed partly because she believes in the importance of telling the truth, but also because she worried about the consequences if she didn’t take part.

At the time, SNC-Lavalin’s code of conduct stated that employees “must always … fully, truthfully and transparently co-operate” with internal investigations, and failure to do so “may lead to disciplinary measures, including dismissal.”

A.H.’s claim says the investigation ended with “no reasonable results, rather A.D., a repeat sexual offender, was allowed to continue on in his role as the plaintiff’s supervisor unabated.”

It goes on to say that “the lack of effective results made it impossible for the plaintiff to continue in her employment.”

The corporations’ response alleges the investigation did not corroborate A.H.’s allegations, but does not provide any more specifics about the findings.

A.H. alleges she’s suffered “severe emotional injuries” because of this experience, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, insomnia, anxiety, paranoia and intrusive thoughts. She’s asking for damages from her employer and A.D., as well her past and future health-care costs.

Trial dates have been scheduled for July 2023, but Protrans B.C. and SNC-Lavalin have applied for a dismissal of the lawsuit, arguing the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal has jurisdiction in the matter.

None of the allegations in the lawsuit or the response have been proven in court.


Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell says police sexual assault staffing woes, case backlog ‘unacceptable’

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This story was co-published by KUOW and The Seattle Times.


eattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said Thursday the Seattle Police Department’s critically low staffing in its sexual assault unit was “unacceptable,” following an internal memo published by KUOW and The Seattle Times showing that it had stopped investigating most new sexual assault cases involving adults this year.

Advocates and personnel within the department had raised concerns about these issues for months. In the wake of the story, advocates said they felt “gaslit” by public officials’ responses when they assured them they stood with survivors of sexual assault.

Harrell rejected the idea that his administration did not prioritize justice for sexual assault survivors. But he acknowledged that the current state of the unit – and its backlog of 48 stalled cases that had not yet been investigated – was “not where it needs to be.”

“I’m not happy with where the city is, but we will indeed make sure that we are providing optimal service, both for investigation and victim survivor support here this year,” Harrell said.

Harrell suggested bringing back retired detectives to investigate sex offenses, but said he was limited by labor agreements. He also committed to a “sit down” with advocates in response to these concerns in coming weeks.

Ultimately, Harrell said, he needed to increase staffing across the department.

Advocates have questioned whether the root cause was staffing, or the department and city leaders’ priorities.

Riddhi Mukhopadhyay, executive director of Seattle nonprofit Sexual Violence Law Center, said advocates were “excited” to see the memo “because it confirms what we’ve all been seeing.”

“Now we are being gaslit,” Mukhopadhyay said of the response from political leaders. “[The Seattle police department’s] response has always been kind of slow and not as timely compared to other jurisdictions. But it’s gotten worse.”

The SPD memo published by KUOW and The Seattle Times was written by the Seattle police sexual assault and child abuse unit’s Sgt. Pamela St. John to interim chief Adrian Diaz this April. It explained that the unit was so understaffed it had a backlog of stalled sexual assault cases.

Where the sexual assault and child abuse unit had once been staffed with 10 to 12 detectives, just four detectives remained in the unit earlier this year.

The unit has since added an additional detective and plans to add another this month, but the understaffing continues to result in fewer referrals to prosecutors and can harm cases, prosecutors and advocates said.

Other city leaders declined interview requests about their roles in addressing the sexual assault unit’s current crisis. Councilmember Andrew Lewis, a former assistant Seattle city attorney, backed out of a scheduled interview Thursday. Councilmembers Teresa Mosqueda and Sara Nelson did not agree to interview requests; Councilmember Tammy Morales sent an emailed statement about the memo.

Hours after the memo was published, interim chief Adrian Diaz appeared on Dori Monson’s KIRO Radio 97.3 FM show and defended the department’s staffing.

He cited a decrease in the number of sexual assaults reported to Seattle police over the last two years and emphasized a “massive stress level on all of our units” because the department’s overall number of sworn officers in service plunged from 1,290 officers in 2020 to 968 as of March.

“We are trying to work through every case that comes to us, but some cases take a little bit longer for us to get to,” said Diaz.

Seattle City Council public safety and human services committee chair Lisa Herbold said in an interview Thursday she planned to ask Diaz how he believed the department could move toward investigating all sexual assault cases when many sexual assault reports had historically not been investigated.

Herbold said she agreed with Diaz’s explanation that department-wide understaffing was at the root of problems plaguing the sexual assault unit. She also defended the council’s discussion of reducing police funding in the wake of the 2020 protests, saying that police departments across the country have now experienced similar labor shortages during the pandemic.

“This is why we’re looking for ways to support the department in meeting its hiring goals,” Herbold said.

Washington’s U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, who has championed efforts in Congress to expand sexual assault survivors’ access to rape kits and sexual assault nurses, said in an emailed statement to The Times/KUOW it is “unacceptable for any survivor not to have their case investigated and pursued.”

“No one should ever have to bring their story to the police only to discover that their assault will go uninvestigated and unheard by law enforcement — survivors deserve justice,” she said.

Assistant Chief Deanna Nollette said in an interview last week that staffing shortages have been felt throughout the police department, but data provided to the Seattle City Council shows that among an overall staff decline, the proportion of officers in some units – including patrol and management – increased as the portion in investigative units decreased.

In the interview Thursday evening, Harrell said his focus on the stalled investigations was “not a result of external pressure or anything else. It is just the right thing to do.”

Confidential support for survivors

If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, you can call the 24-hour National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (800-656-4673). There is also an online chat option. Survivors in King County can call the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center’s 24-hour Resource Line at 888-99-VOICE (888-998-6423) or visit www.kcsarc.org/gethelp.