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.
Elisha Fieldstadt is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.
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 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.
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.
“I’ve had to call people in and say, ‘I am really sorry, but I can’t charge this out,'” said Lori Ehlers, a senior prosecutor in the Minnehaha County state’s attorney’s office.
Efforts to create a consent statute have failed twice in the state legislature. But without one, survivors continue to watch as an imperfect justice system lets their attackers go, while they continue to live with the trauma and fear.
The gravity of the incident didn’t click with Penny until days later after speaking with friends.
The Argus Leader typically does not name survivors of sexual assault out of protection for their safety and the possibility of re-traumatization. Penny, however, gave the Argus permission to use her first name only.
After she filed a police report, she was told by a detective her case had a “lack of merit” and could not be prosecuted.
“I don’t think there should be a middleman, because you can’t see fear on a piece of paper,” Penny said about how dogged she had to be to even get her story in front of a prosecutor. “As I sit here now I can feel it. They need to see fear so they understand that this was real.”
What do we mean when we talk about consent?
Consent is the action of saying yes to a sexual activity, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). It should be freely given, meaning the person shouldn’t be under the influence of alcohol or a substance, or feel threatened or intimidated.
Twenty-six states, including South Dakota, do not have clear consent laws on the books, according to RAINN. The closest South Dakota gets is second-degree rape, or forcible rape, and third-degree rape, which includes being incapable of consent due to intoxication.
But if a survivor freezes and can’t fight back, like Penny, there’s no statute for them.
“There’s been times that come up in cases, where consent is not defined anywhere in statutes, and so it has created some concerns during prosecution,” said Krista Heeren-Graber, the executive director of the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault.
But Heeren-Graber said there’s a bigger societal issue at hand: myths surrounding the definition of consent, when survivors don’t fight back and what consent actually looks like.
States like California and Minnesota have created statutes called “affirmative consent laws,” which means there should be verbal and expressive consent as a way to combat these myths.
“More than the absence of a no and the presence of a yes, the yes needs to be engaged, excited and active,” Christine Emba wrote about affirmative consent in her recent book “Rethinking Sex,” an exploration into American society’s views of sex. “This approach tries to distinguish between wanted and unwanted sex, even though both might conceivably be ‘consented’ to, and attempts to encompass both agency and desire.”
Craving safety and security, she missed the red flags — at
Penny first met “The Boy” in April 2021, when she was working as a cashier at a Sioux Falls casino.
“He walked in and caught my attention, because he was cute and had lots of hair,” she said.
Penny refers to him as “The Boy,” because after the assault, he was no longer a 44-year-old man in her eyes and she didn’t want to use his name anymore.
The Argus Leader will also not use his name because he was not arrested or charged.
The two started hanging out, staying up late, getting to know one another. He would walk her home from work when her shifts ended at 2 a.m., she said.
“He used to ask me, ‘Why do you like me?’ And I’d say, ‘Because you make me feel safe. You make me laugh and you never told me to shut up,’” Penny said, recalling she craved safety and security after a series of abusive relationships.
Penny described her relationship with “The Boy” as an emotional attachment. The two rarely had sex.
Penny didn’t notice red flags until June, when “The Boy” started drinking more. He became physically violent, grabbing and shaking her. His language toward her became more gruffer and more demanding, she said.
One night, he got drunk and threatened to take a large dose of Penny’s anxiety medicine, she said. He passed out in her house and she called the police, unsure of what might happen when he woke up.
That night she filed a temporary protection order against him, according to court documents, and on her daughter’s advice. He would no longer be able to visit Penny at her apartment. But Penny continued to see him at his apartment.
“I tried to keep it a secret, because I was embarrassed,” she said. “The fear was starting to come, but I think at that point, it was too late. I was already into him. It was like I had to be around him.”
A month later on July 25, Penny made the 20-minute walk from her home to “The Boy’s” apartment. They spent the night talking and listening to the radio. In the morning, “The Boy” gruffly told Penny it was her turn to make breakfast, but as she stood at the microwave, “the next thing I know, someone’s grabbing my shirt and he threw me to the side and I almost fell.”
She tried to head toward the door to leave, but he grabbed her and threw her again, she said.
“Next thing I know, he’s got me laid on his bed and I just froze the rest of the time,” she said.
Penny said the assault lasted 20 minutes. She alleges “The Boy” bit her forcefully, digitally penetrated her and forced her to masturbate until her body naturally reacted before he would let her go.
“I was just baffled that I wasn’t getting out of there,” Penny said as she described where her mind went during the assault. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘One: I got to get up and get away from him, and two: why am I laying here, and my body is having an orgasm?'”
A common rape myth circles around if the survivor had an orgasm, then it couldn’t fall under rape, according to the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. However, an orgasm is a physical reaction that cannot be controlled, whether or not someone has consented to a sexual act.
She left the apartment before 10 a.m., still dressed in the red Nebraska shirt and shorts she’d worn the night before, and went about her day, she said.
While the assault is crystal clear in her mind, she can’t remember exactly how many days it took her to file a police report, but she knows it took about a week, she said.
Penny walked into the Law Enforcement Center in Sioux Falls at the beginning of August to file her report.
Sioux Falls police confirmed to the Argus Leader that Penny made a report. Since filing that report, Penny’s been in limbo.
‘Lack of prosecutorial evidence’
When someone comes into the police department saying they’ve been sexually assaulted, the first step is to understand how the survivor wants to proceed, said Sgt. Robert Forster, a supervisor on the crimes against personssquad at the Sioux Falls Police Department.
“The most important thing that we keep in mind is that our victim steers the investigation ultimately in these cases, because these are very private, traumatic events for a victim,” he said.
If the police report is made within 96 hours of the assault, especially if it’s a rape, officers are tasked with trying to preserve as much evidence as possible, Forster explained. Sometimes, survivors are already at the hospital where a sexual assault nurse examiner takes swabs for evidence. Other times, if survivors go to the police first, they’re asked if they would like to go to the hospital.
“We want to try to get some forensic evidence, we can help that victim out in the long run if we do end up going to court for any type of prosecution against a perpetrator,” Forster explained.
Officers also take the survivor’s statement and start the investigation process, which sometimes takes months, depending on if the survivor wants to press charges right away or if they want to take a step back and heal a bit first before retelling their story, Forster said.
In 2021, the SFPD has investigated 577 cases related to sex crimes, such as sexual contact, sex offender violations and cases not amounting to rape. Of those cases, 119 were rape cases.
In Penny’s case, she did not go to a hospital. When she filed her report on Aug. 2, a detective met with her minutes after she walked in that afternoon. They took photos of the bite marks she still had on her leg from “The Boy.”
She’d also taken her own photos and had them printed out for when she met with the detective on her case.
Forster says anytime a survivor can bring in their own evidence, from photos to screenshots of messages and social media posts, it helps.
“Anything we can use as part of our investigation will assist us and the victim down the road,” he said. “We can’t guarantee that’s going to be something absolutely 100% solid, because we don’t know that in police work.”
But even the photos didn’t help Penny. She was told in November by a prosecutor in the state’s attorney’s office that because there was a lack of evidence, the case lacked merit and couldn’t go forward, she said, pulling out notes she had taken from the call.
It’s not up to the police if cases will go in front of a judge, Forster said.
“We don’t make those decisions on whether there’s prosecutorial merit or charges are filed,” he said. “That’s all on the State’s Attorney’s Office and the prosecutors who are elected by the public. So, those are tough decisions for them to make.”
Without formal and public recognition of her sexual assault, Penny is left wondering.
“I do still struggle with is it rape or not. All I know is that man hurt me, and I was scared to death, and I could not move,” Penny told the Argus Leader, her voice shaking in anger during a sunny day at her home in April. “And even though there was no semen or (penile) penetration, he took something from me that I will never get back.”
What makes a rape case go to trial in South Dakota?
There are times that certain rape cases, such as “he said, she said” cases, do go to court. Sometimes, those cases have hard evidence, such as DNA. Other times, prosecutors are able to build their cases off of corroboration.
“It can be difficult when you’re talking about rape cases, because typically there’s only two people in that room: that perpetrator and that victim,” said Minnehaha State’s Attorney Daniel Haggar. “More often than not, we have to look and say, ‘What are the facts of the case?'”
Most of the time, prosecutors rely on the law enforcement investigation to find witnesses and surveillance tapes to corroborate the victim statement, Ehlers said.
“Probably more than 75% of my cases don’t have DNA,” she said.
In 2021, 74 rape cases out of those119 cases from the police department, from first-degree rape through fourth-degree rape, were charged out by the Minnehaha State’s Attorney’s Office. The year before that it was 67 cases.
But not all went to trial, Haggar said. Some would have resulted in plea agreements, some potentially dismissals, he said.
“There’s more honestly probably still pending,” he said.
There have been high-profile cases of rape in Sioux Falls, most recently in 2019.
In that case, the survivor, who did not consent to the sexual act, went in front of a Minnehaha County judge. The charges against the defendant included two counts of third-degree rape and two counts of sexual assault.
The defendant was acquitted by a jury of the rape charges and one count of sexual contact with a person incapable of consenting. He was found guilty of the one count of sexual contact without consent with a person capable of consenting.
At the time, the jury had to send a note to the judge saying “we need to have a legal definition of consent.” He responded by saying the court had given them all the instructions that were needed, according to Argus reporting at the time.
The defendant had previously been charged with sexual contact without consent and served 90 days in jail nearly 10 years earlier, according to court records. He’d also been accused of having sex with a woman who was intoxicated and didn’t remember inviting him over in 2017. He was not charged in that case.
Legislative fails on consent laws
Since the time that the 2019 Minnehaha County rape case was prosecuted, state Rep. Tim Reed, Brookings-R, has brought two bills forward in the state legislature that would create a definition of consent.
“That case was a driver,” he explained, one snowy March morning from his office in Brookings after the end of the 2022 legislative session.
Reed, who’s been in the legislature for six years and served five of those years on the House Judiciary committee, said that he’s worked closely with Heeren-Graber and The Network on issues relating to sexual assault.
“We just would start to discuss, are there other issues? Are there places that we need our laws changed to benefit the victims?” he said, referring to summer meetings he would have with The Network and other stakeholders.
Consent has been discussed by the group even before Reed wrote the first bill for the consent statute in 2021.
“It takes a while to make sure that you’re getting a good bill when it comes to bills like this. So they can kind of percolate for a little while to make sure we’re getting the right information,” he said, adding the group pulled from other state statutes when crafting the initial 2021 bill.
The first bill failed because of too many definitions about what was considered intoxicated and what was considered the ability to consent, he explained.
A year later, Reed struck those definitions and wrote House Bill 1287, which focused on the “concept of sex without consent.”
In its draft form, the bill added fifth-degree rape with a penalty of a class 4 felony, which would have had a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. It also would’ve added a new selection to the law defining consent, “a person’s positive cooperation in an act or attitude pursuant to the person’s exercise of free well,” as well as defining force, mental incapacity and physical incapacity.
“Sex without consent wasn’t a specific category of rape until this bill came along,” he said. “The end goal, in my mind, on the second bill was still the idea of defining consent. And so, I think we did it better.”
Heeren-Graber said that the bill, which cleared the House, was focused on the survivor who freezes during their attack, similar to Penny.
“Many times and from my experience, as well as working in this field for 30 plus years, victims will freeze, fight or flee,” she said. “Of course, and in many times, victims are freezing during that sexual assault, and they’re just trying to survive it.”
But the day before the bill would’ve gone in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the South Dakota State’s Attorneys Association, which had previously been neutral, pulled its support. It wasn’t until later that Reed learned the association was worried that it would create room for the defendant to face a lesser penalty than rape without consent.
“They had some concerns there’d be some unintended consequences that the cases could get charged at a lesser degree than they had planned on,” he explained.
Again, South Dakota’s attempt to define where consent fits into the question of sexual assault was frozen in time.
Where do we go from here?
Reed and Heeren-Graber are confident that in the next legislative session a consent bill will be passed.
However, as the year-anniversary of her assault comes up, Penny still lives in fear. She now has a permanent protection order against ”The Boy,” according to court records obtained by the Argus Leader. Butthere are still times she thinks she sees him on the street and she has to do a double-take.
She panicked in February when she thought he was being released from jail on petty theft charges.
“I was crying. I was upset. I was shaking,” she said. “Just the fact that knowing that he could be around the corner brought me back to terror and fear and not knowing if I was going to run into him.”
To take care of herself, Penny goes to therapy and continues to get support from resources in the community dedicated to helping survivors of sexual violence, like the Compass Center.
She even adopted a kitten who likes to nibble on her.
Penny plans to continue speaking out and fighting back, not just for her own case but for other women and men, who question if what they experienced—whether it was last night, last week or last year — was assault.
“Something has to be done. This was physical and sexual assault. It still happened and I’m not done talking about it,” she said. “It’s not about me anymore, but somebody’s got to know I’m not done. I’m not gonna shut up, and that helps my recovery.”
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please reach out to either the Compass Center (605)339-0116, the Children’s Inn (605)338-4880 or the Sioux Falls Police Department (605)367-7212. Sexual assault exams are available at hospitals in Sioux Falls as well as The Link downtown.
Follow Annie Todd on Twitter @AnnieTodd96. Reach out to her with tips, questions and other community news at [email protected] or give her a call at 605-215-3757.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
The back-and-forth played out on social media for much of last year. Some of the women posted videos about their allegations. Sensabaugh denied wrongdoing in his own videos and later, in response to media inquiries, through his attorney.
Three women later spoke to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and shared their frustration at the long wait for a decision in the case and lack of communication from prosecutors. The Journal Sentinel published the article in late January, more than a year after Sensabaugh was arrested.
Nearly three months later, the district attorney’s office notified the women it would not issue charges.
“The DA’s office failed us,” said Tiffany Engel-Rivera, one of the women who came forward, in a statement to the Journal Sentinel.
Assistant District Attorney Erin Karshen said she believes “these things happened” to the women but cited inconsistencies in the women’s statements to police, on social media and to the Journal Sentinel as a barrier to convincing a jury.
She declined to detail the inconsistencies.
Karshen did acknowledge a “passage of time” between when the police reports were first filed and her decision.
“Anytime you retell something, there can be minor inconsistencies,” she said.
Psychologists and other experts have long known trauma can influence how a person’s memories of a specific event are stored and retrieved as their body enters a “fight, flight or freeze” state. Police and prosecutors typically receive training on these responses to guide their work interviewing victims and contextualizing a victims’ actions to a jury.
Milwaukee police interviewed Sensabaugh about the first allegation after his arrest. He was not arrested or questioned by police about the other three allegations.
Karshen said the decision not to interview Sensabaugh came after conversations with his attorney, who provided materials to support the activist’s defense. Sensabaugh has maintained any sexual contact was consensual.
The three women who told their stories to the Journal Sentinel said they were never asked by police or prosecutors to explain any inconsistencies and were never given the opportunity to address or refute whatever information Sensabaugh’s attorney provided.
The decision in the case comes as the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office is getting fewer referrals for adult sexual assault cases from police and is charging a smaller percentage of them.
Last year, police agencies referred 306 cases and prosecutors issued charges in 40% of them. That’s down from five years earlier, when prosecutors charged 55% of the 551 adult sexual assault cases referred to them.
In general, prosecutors try to make a charging decision within a week of getting a referral from law enforcement, said Matthew Torbenson, deputy district attorney, who supervises the sensitives crimes unit.
In this case, the decision took 17 months.
It took weeks and months to request, receive and review social media data from large companies, such as Facebook and Google, for the investigation, Torbenson said.
On average, it takes the sensitive crimes unit about 55 days to make a charging decision, but that timeframe is only for cases in which charges are filed, according to data provided by the District Attorney’s Office.
The office does not track the dates when prosecutors make a decision not to charge, so it’s unknown if it took longer to make a decision in the Sensabaugh matter than in other uncharged cases.
‘None of us ever tell an identical story’
Inconsistencies are used to cast doubt on a person’s version of events and suggest they are not credible. Decades of research has shown inconsistencies could have explanations other than a person’s veracity.
When sexual assault survivors tell their stories, experts say, it’s often not as a narrative where they concisely recall first this event happened, then this second one and finally this third one.
Instead, survivors can jump around in their timeline — retrieving their memories as they were stored in a time of stress and danger. It’s because of how our brains respond to a traumatic event.
There’s a biological reason it “comes out fragmented,” said Elana Newman, psychology professor at the University of Tulsa and research director for the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. The hippocampus — where memories are processed and stored — works differently during times of high stress, she said.
Those who work with survivors say they learn something new every time a survivor discusses their experience and that does not make one version less true than another.
Survivors may share their story differently depending on who they are talking to, whether it’s a police officer or a relative or a reporter or followers on social media. It may be easier to tell a police officer a detail in a private interview rather than sharing it with a reporter, for example.
“None of us ever tell an identical story in two different spaces, particularly when there are two different audiences,” said Meg Garvin, executive director of the National Crime Victim Law Institute in Las Vegas.
“Audience matters and the goal of communication matters,” she added.
Inconsistencies also often are seen as solely caused by the survivor, when it’s entirely possible the people receiving the messages recorded or interpreted them differently, said Erika J. Petty, the executive director of LOTUS Legal Clinic, and Rachel E. Sattler, senior managing attorney, in an email to the Journal Sentinel.
A police officer could forget to note something in a report, a medical record might have a detail missing or a friend could jump to a conclusion about what the survivor meant by “I couldn’t get away,” Petty and Sattler wrote.
“There could be perfectly understandable reasons for those inconsistencies that have nothing to do with the survivor’s credibility,” they added.
Prosecutors linked all four allegations as one case
In the Sensabaugh case, prosecutors never asked for an explanation from the women whose accounts they had described as inconsistent.
Having police re-interview the women could possibly introduce more inconsistencies, Torbenson said.
“It becomes a difficult choice to make on do we do we want to clarify these inconsistencies and seek an explanation or are we going to cause further problems in the case by having someone do that follow up investigation?” he said.
Ebony Anderson-Carter, one of the women who spoke to the Journal Sentinel, said Karshen identified inconsistencies in the amount or use of force described her in various accounts. Even without the use of force, what Anderson-Carter described could fall under the charge of third-degree sexual assault, defined as sexual intercourse or contact without consent.
But the prosecutor said she would not file that charge, Anderson-Carter told the Journal Sentinel.
Karshen confirmed her decision, saying if there were inconsistencies with the use of force, it did not matter what degree she charged because the inconsistencies remained.
The Journal Sentinel had sought the police reports prior to publishing the story in January but the Milwaukee Police Department denied the request because the investigation remained open. A second records request, filed after the prosecutors’ decision, is pending.
Karshen also had decided to group all four sexual assault reports as one case early in the investigation. She said she did so given the “very strong modus operandi” — a similar pattern of alleged behavior — and she believed it would make “the strongest case possible.”
The decision tied all four cases together, meaning a weakness in one became a weakness for the others even though the prosecutor said not all of the accounts had inconsistencies.
Anderson-Carter said she disagreed with that approach from the beginning.
“I didn’t want that,” she said. “We just wanted to deal with our situations separately and (Karshen) insisted that we all come together and so on and so forth.”
Anderson-Carter also said she believed her public statements criticizing the investigation and length of time it was taking angered the District Attorney’s Office.
In an interview with the Journal Sentinel, Torbenson said any criticism did not affect the charging decision.
Sensabaugh’s attorney gave materials to prosecutors
Prosecutors say the case against Sensabaugh is closed unless other information surfaces.
The district attorney’s office had an obligation to both the women and Sensabaugh “to give some finality to our decision,” Torbenson said.
“There’s a hint that more has happened than what we’re aware of,” he said. “A decision not to charge today doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t revisit that decision based on new information in the future.”
The statute of limitation for most sex crimes in Wisconsin is 10 years.
Anderson-Carter and Engel-Rivera said they believed the prosecutors’ decision will discourage others from coming forward in this case and others. Engel-Rivera filed police reports in Milwaukee and McCandless, Penn. where she said an assault took place during a protest march. Sensabaugh has not faced changes in Pennsylvania.
“Our system often sets up tons of barriers to say we don’t want to hear from you,” said Garvin, the Las Vegas-based crime victim rights expert.
“So then survivors access the forums in which they can start to tell their story in a healing way or to generate attention,” she added. “Then the system all of sudden looks at them and says now we can’t listen to you because it’s inconsistent.”
Some supporters of Sensabaugh had viewed the activist as a victim of a conspiracy of false allegations. The prosecutors said they found no evidence the women knew each other personally before disclosing their assaults. Prosecutors also said they are not investigating the women on allegations they made false reports because there was no evidence they had done so.
Sensabaugh and his attorney have maintained the allegations were false from the beginning and that the activist “has consistently and credibly denied any wrongdoing.”
He said he turned over a packet of materials to police and prosecutors that included witness summaries, copies of texts and other communications to Sensabaugh from some of the women, and polygraph results. Polygraph reports are inadmissible in criminal court proceedings in Wisconsin.
Mastantuono did not share copies of the texts and messages with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel but said they “called into question the credibility of their accusations and refuted that any alleged assault actually happened.”
His client, he said, “remains committed to the best police and justice system our city and country can achieve.”
There is no data that suggests that rates of false reporting are higher in sexual assault cases than they are for any other crime.
“There are false accusations in the world but the best we can tell from the science is they are such a small proportion,” said Newman, the psychology professor in Tulsa.
“The larger proportion is people not reporting,” she said.
Women do not regret sharing their stories
Engel-Rivera and Anderson-Carter said they do not regret coming forward.
The prosecutors “decided to take the easiest way out instead of accepting a challenge to help protect future victims from experiencing this trauma we have to live with everyday,” Engel-Rivera said.
But telling her story has helped in her healing journey, she said, and she hopes it will encourage others to do the same.
“Although we didn’t get justice today, I do strongly feel we will get it one day,” she said.
A third woman who reported her allegations to police told the Journal Sentinel she had some hope for justice in the future. She did not want to be named in the Journal Sentinel’s stories about the case, citing fears of retaliation and harassment.
But she also had sharp words about how prosecutors handled her case, saying Karshen was not empathetic and she believed the prosecutor’s actions will prevent others from coming forward.
“It’s shameful of the (prosecutor) to not even try to fight for women survivors of sexual abuse,” the woman said.
The Journal Sentinel typically does not identify victims of sexual assault; Engel-Rivera and Anderson-Carter agreed to be named.
Anderson-Carter, an activist in Madison, said she spoke out to provide an example to her daughter and other Black women.
“I showed my child not to sweep it under the rug,” she said. “I showed my child it’s OK to be honest, vulnerable and angry. It’s OK to tell the truth regardless of who that truth may hurt. It’s OK to tell the truth even when a Black man is harming you.”
The allegations and investigation against Sensabaugh had raised a host of issues, from the competing legal rights of crime victims and the accused to the challenges facing those who report sexual assault. The case also shed light on the underlying racial and gender dynamics of Black women accusing a prominent member of their community.
“To women in Wisconsin, to Black women in Wisconsin, just keep trying,” Anderson-Carter said.
Where to find help
The City of Milwaukee Health Department has resources for sexual assault survivors here.
Advocate Aurora Health’s Healing and Advocacy Services for sexual assault survivors includes a 24-hour hotline at (414) 219-5555 and a confidential text line (414) 219-1551.
The Sojourner Family Peace Center in Milwaukee operates a 24-hour confidential hotline at (414) 933-2722 and offers assistance with e-filing for restraining orders at (414) 278-5079.
The Milwaukee Women’s Center also offers a hotline at (414) 671-6140.
The Asha Project, which serves African American women in Milwaukee, provides a crisis line from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at (414) 252-0075.
Diverse & Resilient, which serves the LGBTQ community, operates the “Room to Be Safe” resource line (414) 856-5428 and has online resources at roomtobesafe.org.
The Hmong American Women’s Association, which serves the Hmong and southeast Asian community, has advocates available at (414) 930-9352 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The WI Hmong Family Strengthening Helpline is available after hours at (877) 740-4292.
The UMOS Latina Resource Center in Milwaukee offers bilingual, bicultural, domestic violence, sexual assault and anti-human trafficking supportive services and operates a 24-hour hotline at (414) 389-6510.
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 — high–profile 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, much–emulated 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.
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.
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.
Pritzker joined Kelly and local elected officials in Belleville, where ISP is establishing the Illinois State Police Forensic Science Institute to house a portion of the ISP forensic science training program.
The governor’s office said over the past two years, ISP reduced its total forensic backlog by 72 percent, while the backlog in drug chemistry evidence processing decreased by 90 percent from February 2019 to the end of 2021.
Kelly said ISP has a goal of bringing a sense of closure to crime victims by processing the evidence that may lead to an arrest.
“That’s why I’m pleased to report in the forensic discipline of trace chemistry, 2021 ended with the lowest backlog in eight years,” Kelly said. “In biology, the lowest backlog in 11 years. In toxicology with the lowest backlog in 15 years. Firearms with the lowest backlog in 18 years. Footwear with the lowest backlog in 20 years. Chemistry with the lowest backlog in 28 years, and latent prints with the lowest backlog in 31 years.”
“Kits were found untested across the state. The wait time for results from kits that were tested stretched into years instead of months or weeks,” she said. “Today we can acknowledge substantial progress.”
“But our work here isn’t done,” she added. “We must continue to address the barriers both internal and external that prompt us to recognize six months, or 180 days, as cause for celebration, because six months is still a long time for survivors to wait. We cannot be complacent with our progress.”
The Rebuild Illinois capital infrastructure plan signed in 2019 included $76.6 million for a new combined crime laboratory and administrative facility in Joliet. This year’s budget also included $5.4 million for increased staffing and equipment at a new ISP forensic lab in Decatur.
Laws expand use of highway cameras
The governor also signed a pair of bills Friday that expand the state’s highway camera monitoring program.
House Bill 4481 expands a Cook County roadway camera pilot program to state highways and expressways in the counties of Boone, Bureau, Champaign, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Henry, Kane, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, Macon, Madison, McHenry, Morgan, Peoria, Rock Island, Sangamon, St. Clair, Will and Winnebago.
Previously, ISP received a $12.5 million grant to bring the number of cameras on Chicago expressways to 300, starting on the Dan Ryan expressway.
While an added 6,300 miles of roadway – on top of about 230 miles in the pilot program – will be eligible for cameras under the expanded program, the new legislation contains no guidance for which roadways would receive them.
The budget contains $20 million from the Road Fund for the expansion.
House Bill 260 allows police to use camera footage to also investigate hijacking and forcible felonies such as murder, criminal sexual assault, robbery, burglary, arson, kidnapping and aggravated battery.
Previous law only allowed the footage to be used to investigate firearm offenses and to monitor roadway conditions.
The expansion also gives the attorney general’s office authority to prosecute forcible felony, gunrunning and firearms offenses on camera-monitored expressways.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government that is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
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.”
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.
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.