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Cross-examination in Jake Virtanen sexual assault trial continues

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.
Jake Virtanen
Ex-Vancouver Canuck Jake Virtanen leaves B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.

A woman who alleges former Canuck Jake Virtanen sexually assaulted her five years ago testified July 20 she has got over her anger but wants him held accountable for his alleged actions.

Virtanen’s lawyer, Brock Martland, asked her if she had “a lot of hate toward” Virtanen.

“Yes,” she said.

The woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, remained under cross-examination Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court as part of Virtanen’s sexual assault trial. The alleged incident happened on Sept. 26, 2017 at a Vancouver hotel.

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 to the charge on Feb. 17.

The investigation was launched in May 2021 after the 23-year-old woman filed a complaint. 

The judge and jury heard the pair had met during the Calgary Stampede earlier in 2017 when the woman was 18. She told the court that she did not recognize him, nor follow the Canucks.  

Virtanen’s lawyer pressed the woman on her evidence, asking about a civil lawsuit she filed against Virtanen.

Martland queried how sealed court documents, including her notice of civil claim and Virtanen’s filed response, got into the hands of a reporter.

The woman said her lawyer gave the reporter the documents.

Martland then asked the woman if she knew that if Virtanen were convicted in the criminal case that she was assured of a win in the civil action. He explained that in a criminal case proof must be beyond a reasonable doubt while in a civil case it must be on a balance of probabilities.

She said she was unaware of those legal issues.

The woman told the court she was glad to see the story come to light, getting national and international attention.

Martland asked if she was happy to see her story return to the news.

“Yes,” she said.

“I don’t care about the attention,” she added. “It’s just to get my story out.”

She told the court she didn’t go to police earlier because she didn’t want to accept what had happened.

She said she had a hard time talking to the reporter about the alleged actions.

The court heard she also feared a backlash from hockey fans, and those around Virtanen.

Woman testifies she repeatedly told Virtanen ‘no’

In September 2017, when in Vancouver for a photoshoot, she told Virtanen that she was in the city and he suggested meeting up. She testified that she initially resisted but eventually agreed. 

She said she wanted the meet-up to be somewhere in public but “felt sick” when they arrived at the hotel. 

“I didn’t want to be put in a situation,” she said, later testifying she had “this kind of sinking feeling” in her stomach.  

“I thought we were just going to get to know each other — go for a drive, a walk,” she told the court. 

At two points, she testified she told him, “I seriously don’t want to have sex with you,” and repeatedly said “no.” 

She said she wasn’t interested in sex, saying she would have showered and shaved her legs if she had been. “I didn’t do any of that,” she said. 

The court heard extensive details of the alleged assault.

During Wednesday’s cross-examination, Martland questioned why the woman remained in the hotel room with him as he pushed her to have sex.

“What more do I have to say or do?" she asked Martland. "Do I have to write it out for him? I don't know how else to say it. What other expression do I need besides 'No'?"

The woman has testified she repeatedly shrugged him off and that he kept coming, removing her top, bra and pants.

Martland asked why she didn't put her clothes back on. 

"I was frozen," she said. "I was numb. I didn't know what to do."

The woman told the court even as she protested Virtanen said it was OK, they didn't have to do anything and then continued making advances.

"I trusted him for some reason. I don't know why," she said. "Saying ‘no' multiple times, I thought he would stop."

Virtanen is not in custody. 

The Canucks placed Virtanen on leave in May 2021. He was later released from his contract and played for the KHL team HC Spartak Moscow in Russia until March 2022. 

The trial is expected to last four more days.

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