Defence wraps cross-examination as Virtanen trial continues in B.C.

Former Vancouver Canucks NHL hockey player Jake Virtanen, right, returns to B.C. Supreme Court with his father Rainer after a lunch break in his sexual assault trial, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 19, 2022. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

Editor’s Note: The following story deals with sexual assault, and may be distressing for some readers.

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VANCOUVER — The defence lawyer for former Vancouver Canuck Jake Virtanen has wrapped up his cross-examination of the woman who has accused Virtanen of sexually assaulting her in 2017, and the Crown is expected to close its case later this afternoon.

Virtanen’s lawyer, Brock Martland, asked the 23-year-old woman why she attended a pre-season game between the Canucks and Calgary Flames two days after the night of the alleged assault in Virtanen’s downtown Vancouver hotel room.

The woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, agreed with Martland that she had described the incident as an “aggressive rape,” which was traumatic for her, and that she didn’t want to see Virtanen afterwards.

She told the jury trial she went to the game with her friend because she had always wanted to attend a professional game, having played sports throughout her life.

The woman also testified Thursday that she hadn’t yet fully processed what had happened and she was texting Virtanen as if everything was normal because she wanted to pretend the alleged assault hadn’t occurred.

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

The woman has testified that she repeatedly said “no” before Virtanen allegedly sexually assaulted her in September 2017.

The trial has heard Virtanen and the woman met at the Calgary Stampede in 2017, exchanged numbers and stayed in touch through text messages and Instagram when they both returned to B.C.

Later that year, the woman drove to Vancouver to visit family and friends, and to do a photoshoot, and messaged Virtanen about meeting. He picked her up from her friend’s house and took her to his hotel room. During cross-examination earlier this week, Martland argued that a sexual encounter between the woman and Virtanen was consensual.

He had suggested she could have offered up an excuse for why she couldn’t have sex, like saying she was menstruating.

“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 had replied.

Before wrapping up his cross-examination on Thursday, Martland apologized for the question about why she had not offered an excuse, calling it insensitive.

The Canucks placed Virtanen on leave in May 2021 after the sexual assault allegation was made public, and bought out his contract the following month. He last played in the Russian-based Kontinental Hockey League.

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