Former Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen has been found not guilty of sexually assaulting a young woman at his hotel room in 2017 in Vancouver.
Now 25, Virtanen was 21 at the time, while his accuser – now 23 – was 18.
The two had met at the Calgary Stampede in July of 2017, before they eventually both ended up in Vancouver in early-fall.
In an anonymous Instagram post to the @SurvivorSeriesProject page, the victim alleged that Virtanen brought her back to his hotel, where he proceeded to have non-consensual sex with her, despite her telling him multiple times that his intentions/feelings were not reciprocated.
“He wanted to meet up one night but it was late so I suggested another day,” she detailed in her post on the Survivor Series Project page. “He insisted on picking me up that night. I was staying with friends in North Van and I knew he lived around an hour away so I thought I’d be safe knowing he wasn’t just taking me back to his house and being put in a position I didn’t want to be in.”
She expanded that she felt uncomfortable entering his hotel and his immediate actions gave way to what she had previously feared.
“I was so disgusted and conflicted about what had just happened,” she wrote. “Whether it was my fault for going in the hotel and my fault for not just leaving when I threatened to. I was 18 at the time and completely sober so I was fully aware of what was going on… With him being in a high position of professional hockey, almost no one believed that I didn’t want to, that he assaulted me and that he didn’t take no for an answer.”
She eventually pressed charges this past January.
During his hearing, Virtanen stated to the jury that his accuser was an “enthusiastic participant”.
The disgraced former Top-10 draft pick of the Canucks cried from his stand in the courthouse on Tuesday, but did not offer any sort of comment after the jury determined his fate.
He did, however, release a statement through his agency Titan Sports Management later in the day.
“I am incredibly relieved that the jury has found me not guilty, after considering all of the
evidence in my trial,” Virtanen’s statement read. “I am glad the truth has come to light. I am looking forward to resuming my career as an NHL player. For my whole life I have dreamed about playing the sport I love, in the best league in the world. I want to thank my family, my friends, and my supporters, the people who stood behind me through these most difficult times.”