Apologize? The Patrick Kane case leaves a trail of sorry

After the news that Patrick Kane will not be prosecuted, Chicago sportswriter Tim Baffoe is sorry. But not for reasons you might think.
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On Tuesday, The Buffalo News cited sources within the investigation into an alleged sexual assault by Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane, saying his accuser no longer wished to cooperate with the investigation.

“The woman has told authorities that the high-profile investigation has caused tremendous stress for her and her family, and that she no longer wishes to participate.

The alleged victim spoke to investigators at the District Attorney’s Office at length last week, and after that, signed a document called an ‘affidavit declining prosecution,’ which is now under consideration by District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III, one of the sources said.”

On Thursday, Sedita announced that Kane will not be prosecuted, thus ending the potential criminal matter.

“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.”

What next for Patrick Kane as his accuser withdraws from rape case

Outside of a civil suit filed by the accuser, which is unlikely based on her reasons for withdrawing from seeking prosecution, the proverbial book on this matter will be closed.

I’ve written more than one piece regarding attitudes toward the Kane story and the residual effects. While it was reassuring to get mostly positive feedback, there was still a significant response that included a combination of animus, confusion, begging me to not hold up a mirror, and defense of the three-time Stanley Cup champion. In the meantime, some have taken to email and social media to ask whether I will apologize now that Kane will see no prosecution.

Well, that’s what I’m here for right now. To say with the utmost sincerity that I am sorry.

I’m sorry that the mystery and chaos that surrounded this case, and the outcome of the investigation, will help to further fertilize the weeds of rape culture that are entangling our society. That the Kane fanboys and fangirls, the hockey misogynists, the stick-to-sportsians, the Men’s Rights Activists all get to claim some sort of peculiar victory over feminazis, libtards, the media agenda, and the Big Rape cabal that is hell-bent on castrating the Western World.

Given the Kane investigation’s findings of lack of proof, I’m sorry that some people will gladly use it as a reason to continue instantly seeing an admission of untruth whenever someone claims their body was violated and later chooses not to pursue a case against the alleged violator. A verdict of innocence. A validation of the conditioned reflexive belief that people often lie about being violated. 

I apologize that, despite anyone’s best attempts to withhold judgment of the accused’s guilt or innocence, we all still thought we knew how this case was going to turn out almost from the jump. I’m sorry that celebrities will always have the court of public opinion applied differently, and that public opinion (combined with resources and privilege afforded to males and celebrities) weighs heavily on so many accusers until justice isn’t as important as immediate relief from a backlash for their crime of reporting their assaults.

I’m sorry that while I never wrote a declarative sentence about Kane’s guilt or innocence, anything that was viewed as being non-supportive of him was deemed to be mudslinging, jealousy, clickbait, or a conspiracy by Big Media, for whom I act as an operative. “Innocent until proven guilty” is a vital principle in our country, but no credible media ever handed down a verdicton Kane. That's not the issue here. The issue is that if you’re not with the zealots on either side, you’re against them. Defending honest reporting of a sexual assault investigation isn’t what a beat writer signs up for.

If you’re a media member who handled this story, and others like it, with care and integrity, I thank you for your difficult work and fortitude while I empathize with your merely relaying news or asking overheated fans to pause in their tribalism long enough tostop seeing your efforts as acts of treason. You had to deal with the “Wait for all the facts before reporting” crowd that doesn’t understand how and why a developing and ongoing story is reported. And you had to listen to self-proclaimed journalism experts demand better “reporting” after they read your columns and decided they didn’t square with their beliefs.

I’m sorry that you’ve been hearing demands that you apologize for doing your job. I’m sorry that there’s an odd segment of fandom that needs its sports heroes to be apologized to for perceived slights.

I deeply abhor seeing women like my colleague here and elsewhere, Julie DiCaro — a lawyer and survivor of rape—defending herself almost daily. Being subjected to the vilest of comments because she dared to mention Patrick Kane’s situation, no matter how objectively,  while also having the gall to be female. I’m sorry that being a woman like Jen Lute Costella is seen as such a threat to the strictly male experience of enjoying and analyzing sports and its culture. I’m sorry that so many insecure men unite to lean on women’s voices until those women, too, decide that speaking up is no longer worth it. But I appreciate the voices that, in defiance, continue to insist on being heard.

I apologize that I will continue to be amazed at the on-ice talent of Patrick Kane, and will continue to reap the benefits of his play as a fan of and sometimes writer on the Hawks.

I regret that a great game must struggle with trying to grow its audience while battling a contingent of core fans that suffers infamously from a Napoleon-complex (and can be kinda racist), and when hockey doesn’t seem very appealing because the treatment of a star player during his sexual assault investigation falls somewhere between championing him no matter what and conditional apathy about what he possibly could have doneeven when his guilt or innocence is still very much open to question.

All of that only adds to the Blackhawks’ and NHL’s respective instances of misogyny, paternalism, and laissez faire attitude toward violence against women that, at times, could make even Roger Goodell say “WTF?” Do some Googling on Drew Doughty, Slava Voynov, Semyon Varlamov, and especially Mike Ribeiro if you’re not privy. I apologize in advance if your stomach turns.

I’m sorry that the otherwise admired organization of the reigning Stanley Cup champions did little after the news of the Kane investigation broke to give a fan with a soul any faith that the team is sympathetic to possible victims of sex crimes. 

“Whether you think Kane should have been with the team or not,” wrote Sam Fels, editor of the best Blackhawks blog and game program going, The Committed Indian, on Tuesday, “you would have to understand how announcing a bobblehead night for him or featuring him on the Twitter feed or whatever else went on [he got to catch passes and kick field goals before a Chicago Bears game this season, for example] looked like spiking the football in the face of those who were concerned. It was unnecessary, if having Kane here was necessary. What was the end goal? To tell everyone everything’s normal? It wasn’t, though it will be soon, as this is erased by the passage of time.”

“Still, isn’t it humorous and simultaneously unsettling that there is far more vitriol amongst Hawks fans for Bryan Bickell [the team’s albatross contract recently demoted to the minors], who saves dogs in his spare time, than there is for Kane?”

Most of all I apologize to real victims of sexual assault everywhere, the vocal and the silent. You who have had to sit on the sidelines and watch a fairly predictable script play out: the automatic victim-blaming, slut-shaming, hero worship and name-naming while the investigation proceeded and no one’s guilt or innocence had been conclusively established. 

Aftermath of Patrick Kane case leaves only losers and sour taste

I’m sorry that your nightmare was re-ignited rather than given a respite in the form of sports entertainment. Or how you met with demands for silence in public or online when you pointed out how insisting that the accused be given “the benefit of the doubt” can be perceived as calling the accuser a liar. That you had to hear Kane cheered during his first game amid the ugly accusations, or as Clare Austin put it:

“When Patrick Kane stepped onto the ice on the opening day of Blackhawks training camp to rousing cheers, those cheers sent a message to everyone. The people who cheered knew the situation, but they made a conscious choice to cheer for a man because he had been accused of rape.

“Not in spite of that fact. Because of it.”

I apologize that the cheers from that kind of fan will again be rousing, likely more so, when Kane takes the ice at the United Center. It will be a display by the very worst of us as partakers of sport. In their minds, the sportsman beat the “haters” this time. Watching sports is good and pure again for the people who have a moral compass made of boiled spaghetti. Hooray, sports.

The Kane case and the ugly responses to it will now dissolve into memory for many people, going the way of the Ben Roethlisberger and Kobe Bryant incidents, and even the successfully prosecuted Mike Tyson, whose criminal past this generation of teens hardly even knows about. I’m sorry that we’ll never know what really happened on the night in question or future nights in question. I’m way sorrier that that isn’t what’s most important right now, and how many people don’t get that.