Former Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen has been charged with one count of sexual assault, the Vancouver Police Department announced on Thursday.
The charge stems from an incident from Sept. 26, 2017, when Virtanen was still a member of the Canucks, and which prompted a police investigation in May of 2021 after a now-23-year-old woman filed a complaint.
"We have been in contact with the Vancouver Police Department throughout their investigation and will continue to provide support as needed," the Canucks said in a statement on Thursday. "Our organization is committed to fostering a safe and welcoming environment and will not tolerate sexual misconduct of any kind. We will not be commenting further on this matter."
A civil lawsuit filed against Virtanen in Kelowna, B.C., at the time claimed that Virtanen took the woman to a Vancouver hotel and assaulted her as she repeatedly asked him to stop.
Placed on leave by the Canucks shortly after the police investigation came to light, Virtanen filed court documents denying the assault allegations in June of last year, stating that he and the alleged victim had engaged in consensual sex. He also asked for the suit to be dismissed and for the court to grant him special costs against the plaintiff.
The allegations have not been proven in court.
Virtanen, now 25, has played with the KHL's Spartak Moscow since last September and is not yet in police custody as of this writing, according to The Canadian Press. Constable Tania Visintin told reporters that no further details on the investigation will be provided, adding that "this is obviously a very sensitive case." The Crown counsel is in contact with Virtanen's legal team, according to Visintin, in order to work out how the hockey player will be brought to court in B.C.
The former sixth-overall NHL pick had his contract bought out in July of 2021 with one more season remaining on his two-year deal with the Canucks before signing in Russia that September.
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