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Evander Kane denies any wrongdoing in encounter with 20-year-old woman

Facing an investigation by the Buffalo Police Sex Offense Squad, Buffalo Sabres hockey star Evander Kane is claiming that his weekend encounter with a 20-year-old woman was consensual, sources told The Buffalo News on Monday.

Kane denied any wrongdoing in a brief appearance before a cluster of reporters in the team’s locker room after the Sabres’ Monday morning skating session at First Niagara Center.

“I just want to say I’ve done nothing wrong,” Kane said. “I look forward to clearing my name.”

Although Kane did not provide any further details during his brief statement, sources familiar with the case said he has told people that he had consensual sex with the young woman after meeting her in a downtown bar and taking her to his room in the Buffalo Marriott HarborCenter early Sunday morning.

Authorities said Buffalo Police responded to a 911 call from a hospital about 7:40 a.m. Sunday after the woman went there for treatment of an injury.

The woman’s statement to police prompted an investigation by the Sex Offense Squad to determine if she had been sexually assaulted, sources said. Authorities said the woman told police she has “no recollection” of what actually happened between her and Kane.

The woman was examined for signs of sexual assault in a local hospital, and signs of trauma were found on her body, authorities said.

Police said Monday that the investigation is in its early stages, and Kane hired defense attorney Paul J. Cambria, the same Buffalo lawyer who represented Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane – no relation to Evander – during a controversial sexual assault investigation in the Town of Hamburg earlier this year. The Erie County District Attorney’s Office decided to file no charges against Patrick Kane after a highly publicized three-month investigation.

Cambria told The News that he firmly believes Evander Kane’s contention that he did nothing wrong.

“He vehemently denies doing anything wrong … and I believe in Evander,” Cambria said.

He declined to comment when asked if Kane has told him that the encounter with the woman was consensual.

A key question that detectives are trying to answer is how the woman sustained her injury, authorities said.

“No report has been filed at this time, and no charges have been filed,” said police spokesman Michael DeGeorge.

Experts said it is possible for a victim of sexual assault to forget – at least temporarily – what has happened to her.

Jessica C. Pirro, CEO of Crisis Services, said any kind of traumatic experience – including a terrible car accident, a shooting or a sexual assault – can have a profound impact on a person’s physical and emotional state.

So the person’s memory may be affected, at least in the short term, she suggested. Pirro emphasized that she was talking generally, not specifically about this case.

“How people respond to a traumatic incident does vary from person to person,” she said. “They need time to be able to process what happened and verbalize their experience … It really is an individualized experience, so it’s hard to have a cookie-cutter approach to how people will react.”

At this point, police can be expected to conduct a thorough, careful investigation and consult closely with the district attorney before any decision is made on whether to file charges, two legal experts told The News.

“What happens now, is that the Sex Offense Squad conducts an examination of the young woman, looks at the medical evidence and talks to any individual who may have been with the two of them that night and may know anything about what happened,” said longtime defense attorney Terrence M. Connors, who has represented several professional athletes suspected of wrongdoing. “They’ll try to talk with Evander Kane, but you can bet your last Christmas dollar that Paul Cambria will not allow Kane to talk with detectives until he conducts his own investigation and finds out everything he can about this case.”

While she called it “an amazing coincidence” that two hockey stars named Kane have been subjects of similar investigations, former sex-crimes prosecutor Florina Altshiler said no one should jump to the conclusion that the two incidents were alike.

“Every case is different, with its own set of facts and intricacies,” said Altshiler, a Buffalo attorney. “One interesting thing about this case is that a hotel has all kinds of video cameras, and people working there who could observe people arriving and leaving. I am sure detectives would want to look at hotel videos.”

Police seized Kane’s sport utility vehicle to examine it for evidence, authorities said, and they also searched his hotel room in the Buffalo Marriott HarborCenter, which is adjacent to the Sabres’ hockey arena.

News Sports Reporter Tim Graham contributed to this report. email: dherbeck@buffnews.com, lmichel@buffnews.com and gwarner@buffnews.com