The “rape kit evidence bag” that attorney Thomas Eoannou held up in front of a room full of reporters Wednesday turned out to be something quite different.
It wasn’t a rape kit, at all. It wasn’t even an evidence bag.
At a packed news conference on Friday, Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said a 48-hour investigation revealed the bag to be part of an “elaborate hoax.”
Eoannou had told reporters that the bag was found Tuesday afternoon by the mother of a young woman who has alleged she was raped by NHL star Patrick Kane. The bag was sandwiched between the storm door and the front door of the mother’s house, Eoannou had said.
The culprit is the mother, Sedita said.
Here’s what he said his investigators discovered:
On Aug. 2, hours after when the woman says she was raped in Kane’s house in Hamburg, the alleged victim went to her mother’s house where she changed “the top she was wearing on the morning of Aug. 2,” Sedita said. She put on a new top, and then she and her mother went to Erie County Medical Center to undergo a forensic sexual assault examination, Sedita said.
A rape kit was used as part of the exam, Sedita said.
But he pointed out that these kits are white cardboard boxes that are filled with swabs, slides and envelopes used to collect physical evidence.
Holding up a rape kit box, he said: “It is a box, as you can plainly see. It is not a bag.”
Rape kit boxes almost never are put into another bag, Sedita said.
At the hospital, the sexual assault nurse examiner learned that the alleged victim had changed her top, Sedita said. Clothing can provide important forensic evidence, including DNA and hair strands, so the nurse asked the mother to take the bag home with her, put the clothing into it and told her a police officer would come get it. The bag had a label from ECMC with the alleged victim’s name and date of birth on it, along with the nurse’s initials.
A Hamburg police detective went to the mother’s house later that day and asked for the top.
According to Hamburg Police Chief Greg Wickett, who spoke after the news conference, the investigator saw the hospital bag at the house.
The investigator wanted to put the top in a police evidence bag instead and placed it inside. Authorities later clarified that the top was never put inside the hospital bag.
According to Sedita, the mother acknowledged to investigators that she had been offered such a bag but denied she took it with her.
During the news conference, Sedita presented video evidence on two screens showing Hamburg investigators bringing the rape kit that was used during the alleged victim’s exam to Erie County Central Police Services for the forensic analysis. It showed the detectives filling out paperwork and then putting it into an evidence locker.
Sedita said it is “unlikely” his office would press charges against the mother.
“It’s not a crime in the State of New York to make fraudulent representations to a private person,” he said.
But he said the investigation into the apparent hoax would continue.
“If the investigation further reveals that the complainant,” the alleged victim, “was somehow involved in this, knew about this, then that could be very relevant,” Sedita said. “We haven’t gotten to that point yet.”
The alleged victim’s family said they will continue to fight for justice, people close to the family said Friday.
The alleged victim’s mother denied to investigators that she took the hospital bag home with her, Sedita said, although Hamburg police said they saw it at her house.
People close to the alleged victim’s family pointed out they noticed at Eoannou’s news conference Wednesday that the bag that he said was the “rape kit evidence bag” had a sticker label that read “kit #7-1027.”
At his news conference, Sedita displayed an actual rape kit, a white box, that had a handwritten number on its side. That number stated, “7-1061.” They said they believe the numbers are similar enough to lend credence to their insistence that this was not a hoax.
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