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Defence lawyer argues former Canuck Jake Virtanen, accuser had consensual sex

Virtanen charged with one count of sexual assault in January after Vancouver police investigation
Former Vancouver Canucks NHL hockey player Jake Virtanen arrives at B.C. Supreme Court for the third day of his sexual assault trial, in Vancouver, on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A defence lawyer has argued that a sexual encounter between former Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen and the woman accusing him of sexual assault was consensual.

The 23-year-old woman — whose identity is protected by a publication ban — told a B.C. Supreme Court earlier this week that she repeatedly said “no” before Virtanen allegedly sexually assaulted her in a hotel room in downtown Vancouver in September 2017.

Virtanen’s lawyer Brock Martland continued his cross-examination of the woman on Wednesday, challenging her version of events.

“I want to suggest to you that, in fact, when you went up to Mr. Virtanen’s hotel room at the Westin Bayshore, that you went there to have sex with him and that you did have consensual sexual intercourse with him,” Martland said.

“No,” the woman replied.

Virtanen, 25, was charged with one count of sexual assault in January following an investigation by Vancouver police.

The court has heard that he and the woman met at the Calgary Stampede in 2017, exchanged numbers and stayed in touch through text messages and direct messages on Instagram when they both returned home to B.C.

The woman drove to Vancouver to visit family and friends, and do a photo shoot in 2017, and messaged Virtanen about meeting. He picked her up from her friend’s house and took her to his hotel room.

The woman grew emotional Wednesday when Martland suggested she could have offered up an excuse for why she couldn’t have sex.

“You didn’t invent an excuse to him, whether it’s ‘I have a yeast infection,’ ‘I’m menstruating,’ ‘I can’t’? You didn’t come up with something?” he said.

“I thought saying ‘No, I don’t want to do this. I seriously don’t want to do this,’ holding my hands on his hips, pushing him off me, was enough,” she said.

“What more do you have to say? Do I have to write it out for him, saying ‘I’ve said no, I’m saying no’? I don’t know what else to do.”

The woman did not go to police in September 2017.

In April 2021, she posted her story to an Instagram page for survivors of sexual assault, then spoke with a reporter from Glacier Media for a newspaper story, naming Virtanen as the man who allegedly sexually assaulted her.

He was a right-winger for the Vancouver Canucks at the time.

The woman used Virtanen’s name in order to draw attention to the story, Martland said.

“By naming him, you knew you’d bring forward, you’d instigate an enormous amount of shaming and anger directed at him,” he said.

“I wanted him to be held accountable, yes,” she replied. “He created this by what he did. Had he accepted ‘no’ for an answer, I would have left. None of this would have happened.”

“Do you hate Jake Virtanen?” Martland asked.

“Honestly, yes,” she said.

The Canucks placed Virtanen on leave in May 2021 after the allegations were made public. The team bought out his contract the following month.

He last played for Spartak Moscow in the Russian-based Kontinental Hockey League.

The trial is set to continue on Thursday.

—Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

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