No date set for start of Jake Virtanen’s sexual assault trial

BC Supreme Court Justice Janet Winteringham accepted request for delay, Jake Virtanen’s trial date is now to be fixed March 30.

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A decision on when to start the sexual assault trial of former Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen has been delayed another week.

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Virtanen’s lawyer and Crown prosecutors jointly asked a BC Supreme Court judge Wednesday for another week to discuss trial scheduling.

BC Supreme Court Justice Janet Winteringham accepted the request and Virtanen’s trial date is now to be fixed on March 30.

Brock Martland, Virtanen’s lawyer, told Winteringham that they had hoped to be ready to propose dates today, but that in discussions with the Crown, some scheduling challenges had emerged.

“I indicated that the defense was keen to set trial dates and was ready to do so and hoped to do that today for a jury trial. But the Crown prosecutor assigned to the matter is not available for some time and his absence would mean a delay in the trial of four or more months, ”Martland told Postmedia via email.

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“We were asking to adjourn just one week to make inquiries and see if a new prosecutor could assume conduct of the trial to avoid that kind of delay.”

The two sides were originally scheduled to fix a date for trial on March 9, but Martland and the Crown jointly asked for a two-week adjournment to discuss disclosure matters. Virtanen was charged in January with one count of sexual assault, related to an alleged incident in September 2017 in Vancouver. Vancouver police launched an investigation in May 2021, after a now 23-year-old woman made a complaint.

Virtanen was not in attendance for Wednesday’s hearing.

The 25-year-old, who was bought out by the NHL team last summer, signed to play in Russia for Spartak Moscow last September. He left the KHL team earlier this month, returning to Canada following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Virtanen is represented by the Vancouver law firm Martland & Saulnier. The firm has served as defense counsel in a number of high-profile cases in the past, such as the Surrey Six murder trial, the Yaletown bike-store shooting, the Air India bombing and the Robert Pickton trial.

Last month, Virtanen’s lawyers requested and were granted a trial by jury.

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