High Court won't hear appeal from media outlet in Jake Virtanen sex assault case

OTTAWA — Canada's highest court has refused to hear an appeal from Glacier Media related to a ruling made during the sexual assault trial of former NHL Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen.

A B.C. Supreme Court jury acquitted the 26-year-old hockey player of one count of sexual assault in July 2022.

In an online post one year earlier, Virtanen's accuser alleged she was assaulted in a Vancouver hotel room in 2017 and, in a separate newspaper interview, told a Glacier Media reporter that she believed Virtanen was involved.

Virtanen was charged in early 2022 and Glacier appealed when the trial judge approved a defence application for details of the Glacier Media interview with the woman, plus any other communications between her and the media outlet.

The B.C. Court of Appeal sided with the trial judge, finding Glacier had not established any "reversible error" in the lower court ruling.

The Supreme Court of Canada, as usual, gave no reasons for refusing to consider the case.

Virtanen had been with the Vancouver Canucks or its Utica farm team for six seasons at the time of the May 2021 allegations. The club placed him on leave and bought out his contract the following month.

Virtanen played briefly in the Russian-based Kontinental Hockey League and returned to Canada last year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Following his acquittal, the Edmonton Oilers signed Virtanen to a professional tryout agreement in the pre-season last September but released him less than a month later.

The winger joined a second division club in Switzerland in November but was let go earlier this month. He now has one goal in three games with the Bremerhaven Pinguins of Germany's top-tier league, the Deutsche Eishockey Liga.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2023.

The Canadian Press