Defence in Jake Virtanen sexual assault trial suggests complainant could have done more to avoid sex

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Former Vancouver Canucks hockey player Jake Virtanen is pictured walking into the B.C. Supreme Court with lawyer Brock Martland. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Former Vancouver Canucks hockey player Jake Virtanen is pictured walking into the B.C. Supreme Court with lawyer Brock Martland. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

On the second straight day of cross examination, the lawyer representing Jake Virtanen in his jury trial for sexual assault suggested the complainant could have lied about having a yeast infection or said she was menstruating if she really didn't want to have sex with the former Vancouver Canuck.

"I thought saying no, I don't want to do this and physically pushing him off of me was enough," she replied, her voice rising and full of emotion. "What else did I have to say?"

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

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

In earlier testimony, MS said she fended off Virtanen's physical advances and told him multiple times she didn't want to have sex. She testified he used his body weight to pin her on the bed before having non-consensual sex.

MS was 18 at the time of the alleged assault, Virtanen 21.

In another line of questioning, defence lawyer Brock Martland called into question the credibility and recall of MS, asking about her statement that she and Virtanen had watched Netflix in the hotel room the night of incident.

"At that time the hotel had no Netflix app or way of watching Netflix," he told the court.

Rich Lam/Getty Images
Rich Lam/Getty Images

Martland also focused on MS's description of being on the balcony when Virtanen first touched her from behind and began kissing her neck, pointing out the room didn't have a balcony, only a sliding glass door that opens to a safety railing.

"That's what I consider a balcony," said MS.

Earlier, MS described feeling like a prostitute when Virtanen reneged on a promise to drive her back to her friend's place, instead giving her cash for a cab.

"He gave you more than enough money," said Martland.

"Yes," said MS.

"And that made you feel like a sex trade worker," asked Martland.

"Yes, because he just threw the money at me. I felt degraded. He just tossed the money at me and left," she said.

In questioning about the civil suit launched in 2021, Martland asked MS about her financial situation and spending habits. MS testified she was financially secure with investments and savings, and not a big spender.

Martland then produced posts from her Twitter account where she talks about needing money and spending money, including one post saying "I've burned through $15K."

"That was for school fees, rent, living, eating, everything all together," responded MS. "It was an exaggeration for a joke."

'It would be millions'

Martland asked MS directly if she was suing Virtanen for money. No, she answered, indicating she had no idea what a successful civil suit could potentially net.

"It would be millions," said Martland.

"The amount of trauma and stress I've been through isn't worth any amount of money," replied MS.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press
Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

The alleged assault first came to light in April of 2021 when MS published her account of the incident on the Instagram account Survivors Stories Project without naming herself or Virtanen.

MS said the person behind the account referred her to Glacier Media reporter Alana Kelly, who in turn encouraged MS to go to police and to talk to Penticton lawyer Michael Patterson.

On May 1, 2021, Kelly and Glacier Media published an exclusive story naming Virtanen and quoting MS, who was called 'Emily' in the story. Virtanen was suspended by the Vancouver Canucks the same day.

According to the agreed statement of fact, Patterson gave Kelly a draft notice of the civil claim and the lawyer and reporter communicated about what should be in it. Patterson also shared Virtanen's response to the civil claim with Kelly, who published stories about both.

Martland has suggested MS used Kelly to amplify her story.

"I don't care about the profile, it's never been a concern. My main goal going forward was just to get my story out," said MS.

The trial continues on Thursday. It is not known if Virtanen will take the stand.

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