Skip to content

Trial hears former Vancouver Canuck Jake Virtanen was ‘blotto’ when he met accuser

Virtanen, 25, is charged with one count of sexual assault
Former Vancouver Canucks right wing Jake Virtanen (18) sits in the penalty box as seats normally filled with fans remain empty during first period NHL action against the Edmonton Oilers in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. A defence lawyer is expected to cross-examine a woman today who claims she was sexually assaulted by Virtanen in 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A defence lawyer says former Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen was drunk to the point of urinating on himself the night he met a woman who later accused him of sexual assault.

During his cross-examination of the woman in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday, lawyer Brock Martland showed a video clip of Virtanen vomiting into a bowl.

“Do you think he peed himself that night in addition to the vomiting?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said, adding that Virtanen’s friends had told her it looked like he had urinated in his pants.

The 23-year-old woman, whose identity is covered by a publication ban, told the court on Monday that Virtanen sexually assaulted her in a Vancouver hotel room in September 2017.

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

The court has heard Virtanen and the woman met at a bar during the Calgary Stampede in 2017.

The woman testified Tuesday that she was not attracted to Virtanen the night they met because he was so intoxicated.

“I’m going to suggest to you, though, that you know he’s an NHL player and that you are getting close to him — indeed in that video getting close to him — because you are interested in him,” Martland said.

“No,” the woman replied.

“Did you know that NHL players make significant income?” Martland asked.

“I don’t know NHL players’ incomes,” she said.

“To be honest, I didn’t think Jake was very relevant in the NHL so I didn’t think he’d make that much money.”

The court has heard Virtanen, then 21 years old, and the woman, who was 18, exchanged numbers while in Calgary and stayed in touch via text messages and direct messages on Instagram when they both returned to B.C.

The woman travelled to Vancouver in September 2017, messaged Virtanen about meeting, and went with him to his hotel room.

She has testified that Virtanen sexually assaulted her in the hotel room. She said she repeatedly said “no” and told him she did not want to have sex with him.

Martland asked the woman why she went up to the hotel room despite feeling uncomfortable and scared. She had several other options, the lawyer said, such as suggesting they go to a restaurant or for a walk on the seawall.

“I was basically not confident enough to say something,” she said. “I was 18 years old and I think, as an adult now, I would say something. But at that age and in that time, I didn’t think to say anything. I didn’t know if I should.”

The woman has testified that after the assault, she went and cried in the hotel room’s bathroom before climbing back into bed with Virtanen and going to sleep.

“How is it that you head right back to the same bed as this rapist?” Martland asked her during cross-examination.

“I felt obligated. I felt like I had to,” she said.

Martland said the explanation “simply makes no sense.”

“I was very scared and didn’t know what to do,” the woman replied. “I wasn’t thinking rationally.”

The woman did not go to police in September 2017.

She first spoke out about the incident in April 2021 when she posted her story to an Instagram page for survivors of sexual assault. She later shared her story with a journalist for Glacier Media, contacted police, and launched a civil lawsuit against Virtanen.

Virtanen was playing for the Canucks at the time of the alleged assault.

The team placed him on leave in May 2021 after the allegations were made public. His contract was bought out the following month.

Virtanen last played for Spartak Moscow in the Russian-based Kontinental Hockey League. He is not in custody.

—Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Woman testifies she felt ‘very violated’ after alleged sex assault by former Canuck Jake Virtanen