British Columbia

Defence suggests complainant in Jake Virtanen sex assault trial was interested in his money

The complainant alleging the former Vancouver Canuck sexually assaulted her took the stand for cross examination by Virtanen's defence counsel on day two of the jury trial.

The former Vancouver Canuck is on trial for 1 count of sexual assault related to an incident in 2017

Former Vancouver Canucks hockey player Jake Virtanen walks behind his father Rainer Virtanen during the second day of his trial for sexual assault at the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, B.C. on Tuesday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Questioning from the defence on day two of the sexual assault trial of hockey player Jake Virtanen insinuated the complainant was interested in the former Vancouver Canuck for his money.

Virtanen, 25, is charged with one count of sexual assault related to an incident in his hotel room at the Westin Bayshore Hotel in Vancouver on Sept. 26, 2017. He has maintained his innocence.

The name of the complainant, identified as MS, is protected by a publication ban.

In cross examination, Virtanen's lawyer Brock Martland challenged the picture of non-consensual sex portrayed by the Crown on the first day of the trial, noting that MS had lost her job right before she brought a civil suit against Virtanen. 

"I was going to suggest at that time in your life you were worried by your financial situation," said Martland. 

"No, I wasn't," she replied.

MS testified she wasn't attracted to Virtanen the night they first met at the Calgary Stampede in July 2017 because he was so intoxicated. 

"Seeing him that drunk wasn't much of an attraction to me," she said.

The jury saw a brief video taken at a Calgary house that same night showing MS holding a silver bowl that Virtanen was throwing up into. Martland also brought up that Virtanen had peed himself.

"Essentially he's making a drunken fool of himself," said Martland. "I'm going to suggest to you that you know he's an NHL player and you are getting close to him because you are interested in him." 

"No," said MS.

"You know that NHL players make significant income," said Martland.

"No," said MS.

Former Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen was charged with one count of sexual assault in January 2022. (Rich Lam/Getty Images)

MS testified she had very little awareness about the NHL and NHL players. She said she didn't know who Virtanen was when she met him. 

Asked by Martland if she had ever tweeted about the NHL, she responded, "I don't think so. Potentially." 

Martland then produced a copy of a tweet posted Aug. 14, 2020 from her Twitter account reading, "F--k Bo Horvat."

Bo Horvat is the captain of the Vancouver Canucks.

"I'm not sure why that came out, what that was," said MS. "I don't remember tweeting it."

Later in court, MS asked to clarify, saying that she sent the tweet in response to something a friend told her about Horvat.

Martland challenged MS on why she followed him to his hotel room the night of the alleged assault.

"I was 18," she said. "I was not confident enough to say something ... I trusted him to just hang out."

Later Martland asked MS to explain why she slept in the same bed as Virtanen after the alleged assault had taken place. 

"Why would you go back to bed with a rapist?" he asked.

"Because I felt obligated," said MS. "In my state I was very scared and didn't know what to do, I wasn't thinking rationally."

Canucks bought out contract

MS first went public with the alleged sexual assault in April 2021 in a story she wrote for the Survivors Story Project Instagram account. Neither MS nor Virtanen were named. 

Days later, she granted an interview to a reporter from Glacier Media which identified Virtanen as the alleged perpetrator in a published story. 

On May 1, 2021, the Vancouver Canucks placed Virtanen on leave. Two months later the club bought him out of his contract. Virtanen played for Spartak Moscow in the Russian Kontinental Hockey League this past season. He was charged in January 2022.

Virtanen is from Abbotsford, B.C., and was drafted by the Canucks in 2014. In October 2020, the team signed him to a two-year extension worth $5.1 million US.


Karin Larsen


Karin Larsen is a former Olympian and award winning sports broadcaster who covers news and sports for CBC Vancouver.