The rape kit evidence bag that had contained DNA evidence collected in the Patrick Kane investigation was anonymously delivered to the mother of the alleged victim, attorney Thomas J. Eoannou told reporters Wednesday.
The mother of the alleged victim found the torn bag at her home, sandwiched between the storm door and the front door at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. It could have been there longer because the mother does not always use that door.
“This evidence bag has been ripped open,” Eoannou said, displaying the brown paper bag to reporters and photographers in his Delaware Avenue office. “This is a significant development in this case.”
Eoannou, who represents the alleged victim, told The Buffalo News that the development “calls into question the integrity of all the physical evidence in this case.”
Eoannou called for the FBI or State Police to investigate the breach. He also said that there have been multiple leaks to the media from people who are trying to destroy the reputation of his client.
Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III told The News that Eoannou’s allegations about the evidence “will definitely be investigated.” He said he was surprised to hear that an evidence bag had been left at the home of the alleged victim’s mother and said he has never heard of such a thing in more than 27 years as a prosecutor.
“In 27-plus years, I’ve never seen a rape kit tampered with,” Sedita said. “It will be investigated, professionally investigated.”
Eoannou told The News he thinks someone may have left the evidence bag at his client’s mother’s home to alert defense lawyers that something is not right with how evidence has been collected and handled in the investigation.
“It was never my intention to comment or try this case in the media,” Eoannou said.
Eoannou said the DA’s office has been notified and has complete confidence that what happened with the evidence will be properly looked into.
Eoannou said he was upset that information about the DNA evidence has been leaked to The News and other media. The News reported Sunday that none of Kane’s DNA was found in samples taken from the alleged victim’s genital area or her undergarments.
When asked if his client was interested in a settlement, Eoannou said he is not involved in any discussions about a potential settlement.
“I am a criminal attorney,” he said. “I have never settled a monetary claim in my life. I’m the last lawyer in town you would go to in a civil case.”
The Hamburg Police Department put out this statement about the bag after Eoannou’s announcement Wednesday. “In regard to the information conveyed today by Mr. Thomas Eoannou, the Hamburg Police Department will cooperate with any authorized investigation regarding the handling of evidence and the procedure of such.”
It continued: “That said, The Hamburg Police Department has documentation that unequivocally demonstrates that it’s handling of the evidence and the integrity of it’s chain of custody of evidence in this case is unassailable. As is policy with active investigations, there will be no further comment regarding this situation.”
Erie County Commissioner of Central Police Services John Glascott also said his department, which handles evidence analysis, followed all proper procedures and that all of the evidence was accounted for.
“All evidence related to this case that was given to Erie County Central Police Services by the Town of Hamburg Police Department is accounted for and remains in its original packaging in the possession of Erie County Central Police Services,” Glascott said in a written statement. “This includes the evidence in the rape kit and the packaging itself. This evidence has been analyzed and reports of that analysis sent to the appropriate agencies.”
Prior to Wednesday’s news conference, Eoannou and people close to the alleged victim have said almost nothing publicly about the case.
The young woman has alleged to police that Kane sexually attacked her in a room of his $2.7 million dollar home on Old Lakeshore Road in the Town of Hamburg. So far, no charges have been filed.
According to sources familiar with the complaint, the woman said Kane raped her early on the morning of Aug. 2, after meeting her in a downtown Buffalo nightclub and inviting the woman and a female friend to a private gathering in his home.
After the alleged attack, sources said, the woman abruptly left Kane’s home and called her brother on a cellphone, asking him to pick her up. The woman then went to a local hospital to be examined for signs of rape and reported her allegations to Hamburg police.
Police went to Kane’s home the next day, looking for evidence. The investigation has proceeded under tight secrecy over the past seven weeks. Hamburg Police Chief Gregory G. Wickett confirmed Aug. 7 that detectives were investigating an alleged incident in Kane’s home, and that detectives were awaiting the results of forensic tests. But he and Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III have been silent on the investigation since.
A number of witnesses have been questioned, The News learned, including the alleged victim, her female friend, a Buffalo restaurant operator who also was in Kane’s home at the time of the alleged attack, and several people who work at SkyBar, the downtown club where Kane met the woman.
Authorities also were expected to question an off-duty Buffalo Police lieutenant who was acting as Kane’s chauffeur on the night of the incident.
A county grand jury was scheduled to begin hearing witness testimony about the alleged crime, but that activity was abruptly postponed on Sept. 8, as reports circulated that representatives of Kane and the woman were trying to work out a civil settlement over the matter. Sedita declined to discuss the reasons for postponing the grand jury testimony, or to say when it might resume.
After weeks of silence, Kane told reporters at a Chicago BlackHawks practice last week that he did nothing wrong and is confident that the investigation will absolve him. He also apologized to family, friends and supporters for the uproar caused by the criminal investigation.
When asked at the press conference if he thinks Kane will be charged in the case, Eoannou said: “That’s up to Mr. Sedita.”