Nearly three months after a local woman told police that Patrick Kane raped her in his Hamburg home, it appears no criminal charges will be filed against the Chicago Blackhawks hockey star, according to three sources closely familiar with the investigation.
Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III declined to discuss his plans for the case, but other sources said doubts have emerged about the woman’s allegations and make criminal prosecution highly unlikely.
The three sources also said they do not believe the case will be presented to a grand jury.
“This case is going nowhere,” one knowledgeable source told The Buffalo News when asked about the possibility of criminal charges.
“I was told … the case will be administratively dismissed” without being presented to a grand jury, a second knowledgeable source added.
Sedita – who is expected to win a seat as a state judge in an election Tuesday when he faces no opposition – declined to say whether he will present the case to a grand jury, or whether he intends to file criminal charges against Kane.
“I am waiting for the investigation to be completed to my satisfaction,” Sedita said, “and to confer with the assigned prosecutor, who is on her vacation six time zones away, before announcing anything further.”
Paul J. Cambria, attorney for the 26-year-old Kane, declined to comment, except to say he has had “no substantive discussions with the District Attorney’s Office” in several weeks.
Cambria has stated repeatedly that the rape allegation against Kane is untrue.
Roland M. Cercone, attorney for the alleged victim, did not return a call from a News reporter seeking his comment.
Town of Hamburg Police Chief Gregory W. Wickett declined to comment.
Kane has denied any wrongdoing but has never publicly discussed details of the claim made against him.
The alleged victim, a young woman from the Buffalo area, went to Hamburg police on Aug. 2, alleging that Kane raped her in his lakefront home early that morning after meeting her in a downtown Buffalo bar and inviting her and a female friend to his home. Kane, the two women and a male associate of Kane were driven to the Hamburg home by an off-duty Buffalo police lieutenant who was working as Kane’s chauffeur.
The woman told police that Kane attacked and raped her while the two were alone in a room in Kane’s home, sources said.
While denying the rape allegation, neither Kane nor Cambria has related Kane’s version of what happened that early morning.
Police have refused to release any statements made by Kane or the young woman.
Doubts about the woman’s allegations began to arise Sept. 19, when The News reported that DNA evidence obtained during the investigation did not confirm the woman’s rape allegation. Sources close to the case disclosed that DNA tests taken from a “rape kit” conducted on the woman in a local hospital showed no trace of Kane’s DNA in her genital area or on her undergarments.
Three days after that report appeared in The News, Thomas J. Eoannou – a Buffalo attorney who then represented the woman – held a news conference and announced that someone had left a “rape kit evidence bag” at the home of the alleged victim’s mother. Eoannou cited the incident as proof that law enforcement authorities were mishandling evidence in the Kane investigation.
A day later, a visibly upset Eoannou held another news conference, this time to announce that he was withdrawing from the case because the alleged victim’s mother had given him false information involving the bag left at her home. An investigation into the incident conducted by Sedita’s office showed that the incident involving the bag was an “elaborate hoax” by the victim’s mother.
Sedita at that time said it was “unlikely” his office would press charges against the mother.
“If you lie to your lawyer, it’s not a crime,” Sedita said then.
The mother did not report the incident to police, nor did she make the statements under oath.
Sedita also said at the time that he did not know whether the alleged rape victim had anything to do with the hoax, but added that his investigators would make it a priority to find out.
The district attorney made clear on Sept. 26 that he was having some doubts about the validity of the case and was reconsidering an earlier decision to present the matter to a grand jury.
“The question in 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.
Since that date, there has been no presentation of evidence of the alleged rape to a grand jury, and none is anticipated, two sources told The News on Friday.
Frank J. Clark, the former Erie County district attorney, has been following the case closely but has no direct knowledge of Sedita’s plans. He told The News he believes that Sedita has decided not to pursue charges against Kane.
Clark said he doubts that Sedita will make a public announcement of his plans for the case before Tuesday’s election, when voters will elect Sedita as a State Supreme Court judge. He said he believes Sedita will try to avoid controversy about the Kane case before the election.
“We all agree that he won’t do anything before the election,” Clark said, referring to his discussions about the case with other local attorneys. “Based on everything that has occurred with this investigation and what can be reasonably deduced, I think the outcome is going to be very favorable for Kane.”
Clark said that, in his view, the DNA evidence “causes all kinds of problems for the alleged victim, and her assertions about what happened.”
The hoax involving the bag purportedly left at the victim’s mother’s home also causes complications for any prosecutor, he said.
When asked about Clark’s statements, Sedita said: “Mr. Clark and I have never discussed this matter, and for him to assume that is, to be most charitable, pure speculation.”
Buffalo attorney Florina Altshiler, a former sex crimes prosecutor, said it is difficult to predict what Sedita will do with the Kane case because she does not know what Sedita knows.
“I would say that, if there is reason to believe that the victim fabricated, lied or participated in the hoax, there is no reason to put this case before a grand jury,” Altshiler said. “But if there is no evidence that she participated in the hoax, then I think it should be presented to a grand jury.”
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