Jacob Hoggard trial exposes misconceptions about consent: specialists

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TORONTO –The sexual assault trial of Canadian musician Jacob Hoggard turned on one central difficulty: consent.
The Hedley frontman was discovered responsible of 1 depend of sexual assault inflicting bodily hurt towards one in all two complainants on Sunday, however acquitted of the identical cost plus a depend of sexual interference associated to a teenage fan.On the crux of the proceedings was a conflict about consent, as is commonly the case in sexual assault trials, say observers.The Crown alleged Hoggard violently and repeatedly raped a teenage fan and a younger Ottawa lady in separate incidents within the fall of 2016, whereas the defence argued the sexual encounters have been consensual.Excessive-profile instances like Hoggard’s have the facility to form our understanding of consent, attorneys and advocates say, exposing dangerous misconceptions that pervade the courts and society at massive. Story continues beneath commercial

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“It’s nice to be attempting to shine a lightweight on a few of these tales and in addition worrisome,” Toronto prison and constitutional lawyer Megan Stephens mentioned in an interview forward of the decision.“These sorts of instances are those that make folks ponder whether they need to come ahead and report what has occurred to them.”Canada has among the most progressive legal guidelines on the books about consent in sexual assault instances, mentioned Stephens. The difficulty lies in how the letter of the legislation is utilized, she mentioned.The Felony Code requires that consent be affirmatively communicated via an individual’s phrases or conduct, that means via alerts that point out “sure,” quite than the absence of a “no.” Consent might be withdrawn at any level in a sexual encounter.Ontario Superior Courtroom Justice Gillian Roberts instructed the jury deciding Hoggard’s destiny that consent within the context of a sexual assault case is about whether or not the complainant “in her thoughts needed the sexual touching to happen,” citing a provincial attraction courtroom ruling.Stephens, a former Crown lawyer, mentioned this “subjective normal” means many sexual assault instances come all the way down to jurors’ assessments of the credibility of the complainant and accused based mostly on the proof they current. Story continues beneath commercial

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Jurors sometimes do their finest to stay to the legislation, she mentioned, however id can affect their determinations and what and whose proof is to be believed.Many observers have famous the perceived gender imbalance on Hoggard’s jury, which appeared to include 10 males and two ladies.

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“We’ve discovered so much over the previous couple of years about implicit biases and the way these can have an effect on our understandings and experiences. And I feel the jury system just isn’t immune from that,” mentioned Stephens, who advocates for ladies’s rights within the justice system.“It’s exhausting for folks to generally perceive the experiences of others once they’ve by no means been in that place, whether or not it’s a male juror making sense of a feminine complainant or a white juror making sense of the experiences of a Black lady.”Canadian courts have been grappling with the “myths and stereotypes” that plague the authorized course of, however even judges are susceptible to fall prey to them, mentioned Pam Hrick, govt director and basic counsel at Ladies’s Authorized Training and Motion Fund.Canada’s highest courtroom has issued numerous rulings lately discovering that decrease courts erred of their utility of sexual assault legislation, mentioned Hrick, serving as a course correction in a system that has subjected complainants to unfair scrutiny. Story continues beneath commercial

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This reveals how the social reckoning of the #MeToo motion has reverberated via the courts, however there’s nonetheless work to shut the hole between Canadian legislation and our evolving understanding of consent, mentioned Hrick.“There’s a lag, I feel, generally between public understanding the appliance or growth of the legislation,” she mentioned. “We have to be vigilant in persevering with to push for change and be persevering with to attempt to safeguard among the good points that we’ve got made.”Farrah Khan, supervisor of Consent Comes First at Toronto Metropolitan College’s Workplace of Sexual Violence Assist and Training, mentioned the Hoggard trial illustrates how misconceptions about intercourse and consent persist each out and in of the courtroom.Defence attorneys alleged the complainants lied about being raped to cowl up their embarrassment after being rejected by a “rock star.”The defence narrative fed into acquainted tropes, such because the “jilted lover” embittered about unreturned affections and groupies who fall underneath a well-known musician’s sexual thrall, mentioned Khan.

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Jury deliberations proceed in Jacob Hoggard intercourse assault

Jury deliberations proceed in Jacob Hoggard intercourse assault

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

“It’s vital for survivors to know it, as a result of generally you possibly can gaslight your self in these conditions,” she mentioned. “Simply since you needed to see somebody, simply since you needed to kiss somebody doesn’t imply you wish to be sexually assaulted.”The Canadian Ladies’s Basis performed an internet survey of greater than 1,500 Canadians in 2018 that discovered solely 28 per cent of respondents absolutely understood what it means to provide consent, a drop from 33 per cent in 2015 earlier than the #MeToo motion emerged.With so many younger individuals who grew up listening to Hedley conserving monitor of the Hoggard case, Khan mentioned she’s involved the subsequent era will endure comparable confusion until we begin prioritizing consent and pleasure in intercourse training.“The problem is that we deal with consent like a checkbox,” she mentioned. “Consent is a few dialog… And it’s ongoing, it’s reversible.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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