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Former NHL player Jake Virtanen charged with sexual assault

BC Prosecution Service has approved one count of sexual assault against Jake Virtanen

Former NHL player Jake Virtanen has been charged with sexual assault following a Vancouver police investigation.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and Virtanen remains entitled to the presumption of innocence.

The 25-year-old was placed on leave from the Vancouver Canucks in May 2021. He is currently signed to a one-year contract with the HC Spartak Moscow.

On Thursday, the Vancouver Police Department said in a media release that the BC Prosecution Service had approved one count of sexual assault in relation to an incident that allegedly occurred in Vancouver on Sept. 26, 2017. 

Virtanen was playing in the National Hockey League at the time of the alleged incident.

Police say they started their investigation in May 2021 after a now 23-year-old woman came forward.

Virtanen’s agent Kevin Epp says his client denies the allegations of non-consensual sexual contact. 

“Mr. Virtanen continues to maintain his innocence and looks forward to defending himself at trial," says Epp. 

Virtanen is not in police custody.

Const. Tania Visintin said there are discussions happening on how Virtanen will get back to Canada. 

The Vancouver Canucks issued a statement Thursday saying they were aware of the charges.

“When the allegations first came to our attention, we immediately placed Jake Virtanen on leave. He is no longer a member of the organization,” reads the release. “We have been in contact with the Vancouver Police Department throughout their investigation and will continue to provide support as needed.”