Former Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen charged with sexual assault following investigation

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Former Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen has been charged with sexual assault following an investigation.

Vancouver police said Thursday that one count of sexual assault has been lodged against the 25-year-old stemming from an incident on Sept. 26, 2017, when Virtanen was playing for the Canucks.

Police launched an investigation in May 2021 after a 23-year-old woman filed a complaint. Virtanen was placed on leave by the Canucks after the allegation came to light and his contract was bought out the following month.

A civil lawsuit filed in May alleged that Virtanen took the woman to a hotel in West Vancouver and assaulted her as she repeatedly pleaded with him to stop. Virtanen denied the allegation in a response filed in June 2021, saying the pair had consensual sex, and denied that the woman "expressed any indication, verbal or physical, that she did not want to engage in physical activity."

The case has not gone to court.

Virtanen is scheduled for an appearance in Vancouver Provincial Court on Feb. 10. He has been playing hockey this season for Spartak Moscow of the Russian-based KHL. The team, however, has been inactive since Jan. 10, when the league suspended its season due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Spartak's next scheduled game is Feb. 22.

Selected sixth overall by the Canucks at the 2014 NHL draft, Virtanen had 55 goals and 100 points in 317 regular-season games with Vancouver.