Jake Virtanen sexual assault trial: Ex-Canuck takes a stand

Former Vancouver Canuck Jake Virtanen, 25, was charged with sexual assault in January 2022 following a police investigation while he was still playing in the NHL. He pleaded not guilty.

Former Vancouver Canuck forward Jake Virtanen took the stand Thursday in a trial in British Columbia Supreme Court to deny sexual assault allegations.

“I was in complete disbelief,” he said, as he recalled when his agent told him of the allegations.

Virtanen began his testimony by telling the jury that he was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in 2014, which was “a dream come true.” He paused and began to cry.

At the start of Thursday’s hearing, Virtanen’s attorney, Brock Martland, began by apologizing to the complainant, whose name cannot be identified due to a publication ban for his “insensitive” questions the day before.

Virtanen told the court that he met the complainant at a bar during the Calgary Stampede in 2017, a few months before the alleged incident. He previously testified that he did not recognize or follow the Canucks.

“His group of friends just came up to us and started chatting,” he told the jury. “I thought she was pretty.”

Virtanen testified that it appeared the woman was interested in him.

He said he had had quite a bit to drink during the night and ended up at a house party together with the woman, who was 18 at the time, and some of her friends. It was there, he said, that a friend put him to bed.

When he woke up, she was by his side, he said. She had previously testified that it was Virtanen who joined her in bed at the house party.

Returning to BC, the pair continued to exchange messages throughout the summer, some of which Virtanen described as flirty.

Woman testifies she repeatedly told Virtanen ‘no’

In September 2017, the woman told Virtanen that she was in Vancouver for a photo shoot and he suggested they meet that night due to his busy hockey schedule.

He previously testified that he initially resisted, but eventually agreed.

While he told the court it wasn’t a date, Virtanen testified that it was.

In response to the woman’s claim that she didn’t know they were going to her hotel when he picked her up that night, Virtanen said she didn’t raise any objections when they arrived.

When asked about the alleged sexual assault, Virtanen said having sex “would have been his choice” and denied saying “no”.

The complainant had testified that she repeatedly said ‘no’ and, at two points, had told her: “I seriously don’t want to have sex with you.”

Earlier in her testimony, she had said that she was not interested in sex and if so, she would have showered and shaved her legs. Virtanen denied this and testified that he believed she had showered and that she had done her hair and she smelled good.

He also told the court that she returned his kisses, allowed him to take off her clothes, and that she had done the same to him.

“We were making out and making out,” he said, as he further described their alleged physical interactions.

When asked if she consented, she replied, “Yes, by kissing me back and touching me.”

Asked if there was any doubt that he would have wanted to have sex, Virtanen said: “Absolutely not. She wanted to have sex.”

He also denied telling her to get into bed afterward to hold her.

“I’m not that loving,” he told the jury.

Testimony was deferred until Friday after Virtanen began sobbing with his head in his hands when asked how he felt about telling his then-girlfriend about the allegations.

Virtanen, now 25, was charged with sexual assault in January 2022 following a police investigation while he was still playing in the NHL. He pleaded not guilty on February 17.

The Canucks released him in May 2021, when news of the indictment broke. He was later released from his three-year contract, which paid $925,000 a year.

He later played for Moscow’s KHL HC Spartak team in Russia until March 2022.

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