Erie County district attorney Frank Sedita said at a press conference on Friday that there was no evidence tampering in the sexual assault case against Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane.
Kane was accused of raping a woman at his home on Aug. 2, but he has not been charged with a crime. Sedita addressed the statement made on Wednesday by the accuser’s attorney, Thomas Eoannou, who alleged that an evidence bag that once contained her rape test kit had been anonymously delivered to her mother’s home and was ripped open. On Friday, Sedita said that the bag in question was not authentic.
Sedita said rape kits collected in Erie County are stored in boxes, not bags. He presented video evidence at the press conference that showed the actual kit in the Kane case was placed in a box and stored in an evidence locker. The kit never left the custody of the crime lab.
Sedita also said that his office had conducted an investigation into the origin of the bag that Eoannu displayed during his press conference and found that it was from the hospital where the accuser had been examined and tested after the alleged rape. The bag originally held a top the accuser had been wearing, not materials from her test. According to Sedita, the mother had taken the bag home.
Asked if charges would be brought against the mother for creating what he called "a bizarre hoax," Sedita said it was unlikely because she did not lie under oath. He will, however, be looking more deeply into New York State Law to be sure that it is not illegal to mislead one’s attorney while pursuing a criminal case.
Sedita did not comment on the Kane investigation itself because it is ongoing and said that he wanted to address the integrity of the investigation instead in order to restore the public's confidence in the professionalism of his staff.
On Thursday, Eoannou announced that he was dropping Kane’s accuser as a client because he discovered potential “fabrications” regarding the evidence bag. On Wednesday Eoannou had called for an independent investigation by the FBI into the breach of evidence, but on Thursday he said he doubted the account of the discovery of the bag that had been relayed to him by the accuser.
“I do not believe the way in which it was explained to me was the manner in which it was found,” he said. “I have looked into that and I do not have confidence in that version of the events.”
Kane’s lawyer, Paul Cambria, also held a press conference on Thursday, and said that the integrity of the accusations against Kane had been undermined by efforts to obstruct the investigation. Kane has maintained his innocence throughout.
Sedita said that Eoannu acted recklessly by calling his press conference before law enforcement had enough time to verify the authenticity of the bag in question but had done nothing illegal. An investigation into the actions of the accuser's mother and whether the accuser was aware of her attempt to mislead Eoannu was underway. The Kane case will either be administratively closed or presented to a grand jury. Sedita said he would make a decision about which course of action to take after the investigation was completed “to his satisfaction.”
The grand jury hearing originally scheduled for Sept. 8 was delayed, reportedly to allow attorneys for each party time to negotiate a settlement. Cambria has denied that any settlement talks took place.
- Erin Flynn