‘This so-called “case” is rife with reasonable doubt,’ DA says, ending probe against Patrick Kane - The Buffalo News

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‘This so-called “case” is rife with reasonable doubt,’ DA says, ending probe against Patrick Kane

Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita announced Thursday morning that the rape case against Chicago Blackhawks hockey star Patrick Kane will not move forward.

“The totality of the credible evidence – the proof – does not sufficiently substantiate the complainant’s allegation that she was raped by Patrick Kane and this so-called ‘case’ is rife with reasonable doubt,” Sedita wrote in a statement released Thursday. “Accordingly, the Office of the Erie County District Attorney will not present this matter to an Erie County Grand Jury.”

His decision follows the woman’s declining to cooperate with prosecutors and police, saying that she and her family have become overly stressed with the investigation.

Kane released at statement midday Thursday through his team, the Chicago Blackhawks:

“I have repeatedly said that I did nothing wrong. I have respected the legal process and I am glad that this matter has now been closed and I will have nothing further to say going forward.”

The Blackhawks said: “We respect the announcement today by the Erie County (N.Y.) District Attorney regarding Patrick Kane. The Chicago Blackhawks organization has taken this matter very seriously, and has tried to navigate a very sensitive situation while continually respecting the legal proceedings. At this time we will have no further comment.”

Paul J. Cambria Jr., who is representing Kane, says the vindication by the District Attorney’s Office was no surprise. “I’m not surprised after conducting my own thorough investigation which included scores of witness interviews, reviewing emails, text messages and being apprised of the scientific tests that were conducted and the results of those tests,” Cambria said. “We were firmly convinced that there was no evidence to support the claims and we were hopeful this would be recognized by the district attorney’s investigators and we are pleased with that.”

Kane, the attorney said, has been through a difficult period.

“It has been very difficult over the last three months to read things in the media that we knew were not factual, that were inconsistent with the evidence and lack of evidence and I can only hope people will not think that a mere accusation is the same as proof that something occurred,” Cambria said, adding:

“Patrick has maintained all along that he has done nothing wrong and the investigation thoroughly supports that. We have not gotten over the fact that someone attempted to corrupt the investigation by perpetrating this so-called evidence hoax.”

Cambria was referring to an evidence bag that the mother of the young woman said she found stuffed between her front door and storm door. Sedita determined it was a hoax caused by the mother in an apparent attempt to discredit evidence.

Sedita said that his office and Hamburg Town police conducted an “exhaustive investigation” of the “allegations made by a 21-year-old woman” that Kane, 26, raped her on his bed.

The investigation found:

• “Significant material inconsistencies” between the alleged victim’s account and those of other witnesses.

• DNA tests conducted on samples taken as part of a forensic sexual assault examination at a hospital “lend no corroboration whatsoever to the complainant’s claim of penetration, a required element of proof for a rape charge.”

• Physical evidence and forensic evidence “tend to contradict the complainant’s claim that she was raped on Kane’s bed.”

• Sedita wrote: “Although Kane has exercised his constitutional right to remain silent (which prohibits questioning by law enforcement), he has made no known incriminating statements to any civilian, nor has he engaged in any conduct consistent with a consciousness of guilt.”

The complainant also decided that she doesn’t want to go forward with the criminal case.

“She has recently signed what is commonly referred to as a “Non-Prosecution Affidavit” that states, in relevant part: ‘That after fully discussing all the circumstances with my attorney, I have decided I do not wish to criminally prosecute the charges which stem out of this investigation. I do so of my own free will and without any promises or compensation,’” Sedita said.

He explained that a complainant’s willingness – or reluctance – to go forward is “an important factor in determining whether a criminal prosecution, brought by this office on behalf of the People of the State of New York, will continue.”

Sedita said he would not hold a news conference to discuss the issue.

National Hockey League Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly issued a statement in the wake of Sedita’s announcement.

“In light of the statement issued today by the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, as an internal league matter, we intend to promptly review the information that may now be available to us. We will have no further comment until we have completed that review,” Daly said in the written statement.

The News reported Sunday that it was unlikely Sedita would send the case to a grand jury.

Sedita made clear on Sept. 26 that he was having doubts about the validity of the case and was reconsidering an earlier decision to present the matter to a grand jury.

“The question in my mind is not when this will go to the grand jury. The question in my mind is if this goes to a grand jury,” Sedita said that day.

The woman went to Hamburg police three months ago, and filed a rape complaint against Kane, 26. She claimed that Kane raped her in his lakefront home on Old Lakeshore Road after meeting her in a downtown Buffalo night club and inviting her to his home for an early-morning private gathering.

In addition to contacting police and making a statement the morning of Aug. 2, the woman went to the Erie County Medical Center, where authorities said she was interviewed by a nurse specializing in sexual assault cases and also physically examined for signs that she had been sexually attacked.

An off-duty Buffalo Police lieutenant, working as a chauffeur for Kane, drove the hockey star, the woman, and two other individuals who had been with them at the night club to Kane’s home, authorities said.

The woman told police that she was alone in a room with Kane when he attacked her. No one else who was in the house that morning saw the alleged attack, according to sources close to the case.

Kane, who has a girlfriend in Chicago, told reporters during the hockey preseason that he was confident that he will be “absolved” of any wrongdoing when all the facts come out. His attorney, Paul J. Cambria, has stated repeatedly that the woman’s allegations against Kane are “untrue.” But neither Kane or Cambria has ever given any detailed account of Kane’s version of the events of that morning.

DNA failed to prove that she had sexual contact with the hockey star. Crime laboratory tests showed no presence of Kane’s DNA on the woman’s genital area or in her undergarments, although Kane’s DNA was found on the woman’s shoulders and fingernails.

On Sept. 26, Sedita said he was having second thoughts about presenting evidence about the alleged attack to a grand jury because of a “hoax” he said was perpetrated by the young woman’s mother. Sedita said the alleged victim’s mother made a false claim of evidence tampering, falsely alleging that a “rape kit evidence bag” from the probe had been left in a doorway of her home.

The incident involving the false evidence tampering claim prompted Thomas J. Eoannou, a prominent Buffalo attorney who had represented the alleged victim for weeks, to withdraw from the case.

Attorney Roland M. Cercone, who has filed a number of civil cases in the past in behalf of people who had accused others of criminal activity, now represents the alleged rape victim. He has declined to comment on whether the woman hopes to file a civil lawsuit seeking financial restitution from Kane. The News has made several attempts to reach Cercone in the past week, but he has not returned phone calls or emails.

email: lmichel@buffnews.com

and dherbeck@buffnews.com

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