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Sexual assault trial begins for ex-Canuck Jake Virtanen

The trial is expected to last seven days.
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Jake Virtanen. Photo: Dan Toulgoet

A woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by Jake Virtanen testified she told the former Vancouver Canucks player that she did not want to have sex with him multiple times. 

“I was saying, ‘No, no . . . that I didn’t want to,” the woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, testified on Monday in B.C. Supreme Court about the alleged incident on Sept. 26, 2017.  

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.  

While in Calgary, she said they kissed and exchanged numbers. Upon returning to B.C., they had communicated a few times through texts and direct messages on Instagram. 

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. 

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. 

Once in the hotel room, the woman said she tried to “shrug off” Virtanen’s physical advances after he repeatedly kissed her, touched her and removed items of her clothing. 
“It happened multiple times,” she said. “I was trying to de-escalate things and hope he would get the hint.” 

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

She testified that Virtanen then sexually assaulted her. The court heard from her extensive details of the alleged assault.

Afterwards, the woman said she cried in the bathroom before returning to the bedroom, where Virtanen soon fell asleep. She said she felt stranded and spent the night in the hotel room. In the morning, Virtanen gave her $80 to take a cab back to her friend’s house as he was going to hockey practice. 
Crown counsel Alan Ip asked the woman how the situation made her feel. 

“Very violated and gross and confused and distraught,” she said. 

The woman testified that she didn’t go to police after the alleged assault. 

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. 

Virtanen is not in custody. 

The trial continues Tuesday, at which point the woman is under cross-examination by the defence lawyers. The trial is expected to last seven days.