Allegations of sexual misconduct have surfaced online against an NHL player.
The woman has spoken exclusively to Glacier Media and has identified the individual as Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen, 24.
“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.”
Glacier Media has agreed not to identify her due to her fear of public backlash. For the purpose of this story, we will refer to her as ‘Emily’.
Although Emily has contacted the police, there are no charges and none of these allegations have been proven in court.
In an email statement on Friday evening, the Vancouver Canucks say the player has been placed on leave.
“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.”
The alleged incident took place in September 2017.
The two agreed to meet, Virtanen allegedly picked her up and drove her to a Vancouver hotel where the alleged sexual misconduct occurred.
Emily spoke out after seeing other women come forward with their own experiences on an anonymous Instagram account.
A Vancouver criminal defence lawyer says any person 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 offence,” 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 police if they are involved to conduct an investigation and giving time to see what if anything happens in the court process.”
Virtanen has declined to comment, which is his right. The Canadian justice system presumes people to be innocent and he is entitled to that presumption.
“As a defence 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 Commission Bill Daly confirms the league is aware of the allegations.
“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.”