Photo: Getty Images
A woman who preferred to remain anonymous told Glacier Media that she was sexually assaulted by Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen in September 2017. The outlet called her Emily in the story. Virtanen, who has yet to speak on the matter, is on leave from the Canucks after news of the allegations were released.
“I couldn’t believe that I said no and he didn’t take that for an answer,” she says. “I felt violated and gross and wanted to leave.”
The woman wanted to remain anonymous due to the likely possibility of public push back.
Emily called the police but there have been no charges. The accusations have yet to be proven in court.
“We have become aware of the concerning allegations made about one of our players. Our organization does not accept sexual misconduct of any kind and the claims as reported are being treated very seriously by us,” says a Canucks spokesperson. “We have engaged external expertise to assist in an independent investigation and we have placed the player on leave as we await more information.”
Back in September 2017, Virtanen and Emily agreed to meet and Virtanen allegedly picked her up. He drove her to a hotel in Vancouver where the alleged sexual harassment happened.
Emily decided to speak up after seeing another woman do so on an anonymous Instagram account.
A Vancouver criminal defense lawyer stated that anyone accused of a crime in Canada is innocent until proven guilty and only until a court finds them guilty.
“Placing somebody on leave while an incident is being investigated is not a sign that somebody is guilty of an offense,” says Kyla Lee of Acumen Law. “It is merely an organization or an employer giving time to investigate all the sides of the issue, giving time for [the] police if they are involved to conduct an investigation and giving time to see what if anything happens in the court process.”
“As a defense lawyer one of the first things that we would often do in a high profile case is not to provide a comment to the media,” says Lee. “Any information that you give to the media is information that becomes publicly available about which you could be cross-examined at trial that could form part of the record of information that is before the prosecutors to determine whether or not to approve a charge.”
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed that the NHL knows about the allegations against Virtanen.
“We are aware of this issue and have been in contact with the club regarding appropriate response,” says Daly. “We don’t have any further comment at this time.”
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) May 1, 2021
By Harrison Brown