This post was originally published on September 21st, 2015. Updates are at the bottom.
I started writing an article for THESIXTHIRTY.com about the Patrick Kane sexual assault investigation last week.
I wrote about how Patrick Kane was facing a grand jury indictment, what that meant, how grand jury indictments (minus the Ferguson case) were usually a slam dunk, and how his career (on the Chicago Blackhawks) would soon be over. The article was finalized and almost published, then similar to the Kane investigation itself, my article had a dramatic change.
On Saturday Night, the Buffalo News reported that DNA evidence does not confirm a woman’s allegations that Patrick Kane raped her.
According to the Buffalo News, DNA tests taken from a rape kit conducted on the woman showed no trace of Kane’s DNA on the woman’s genital area or on her undergarments.
Instead, Kane’s DNA was only found under the woman’s fingernails and on her shoulders…a finding that could be from casual contact.
Regardless of what subjective conclusions you may have, the reality is the DNA findings do not mean that Kane is in the clear, but as one legal expert told the Buffalo News, provide a “game-changer”.
This means that unless Kane used a condom, he did not rape the alleged victim.
It should be noted that New York State criminal code also allows for prosecution of numerous other sexual crimes of a lesser degree than rape, including sexual misconduct, criminal sexual act, forcible touching, aggravated sexual abuse and sexual abuse.
Something I’m sure Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III, who is overseeing the Kane investigation, will have to consider moving forward. However, a defense attorney’s perpetual quest to create reasonable doubt in any case becomes monumentally easier when DNA evidence is missing.
DNA on the alleged victims fingernails shows that the alleged victim and Kane had some interaction on the night of the alleged sexual assault. In addition to supporting testimony, this would put Kane at the scene, but the defense will now be able to cast doubt on anything beyond that.
When during the ongoing investigation prosecutors would have discovered this development remains a mystery. Also, still unknown to us is why prosecutors called off the initial grand jury hearing scheduled for two weeks ago?
Although this conclusion is only speculative, the recent developments lead me to believe that someone is leaking word of the DNA results to soften the blow should charges not be brought.
Still, this situation is not behind Kane or the Blackhawks organization for that matter. That was all too clear at some of the most awkward press conference moments in human history.
Kane told reporters that he had “done nothing wrong” and predicted he would be exonerated, all the while looking like he just came from a casting call for “Rapist #2” for Law and Order SVU.
When Kane proclaimed at the team’s victory parade in June that you would be hearing about him really soon, he truly fulfilled his promise but for all of the wrong reason.
And in an offseason that’s included a complete dismantling of a championship winning team, the spotlight surrounding it’s brightest star shines brighter than ever.
Patrick Kane has truly made Blackhawks fans forget that they won the Stanley Cup less than three months ago.
Our only hope now is that we don’t have to read and write about this issue any longer. If you’re reading, you know that we have, and that the case is still not closed. Let’s all hope this is the first and only time I’ll have to flex my legal understanding of Patrick Kane’s more than unfortunate situation.
UPDATE: 09/24/2015, 3:02 PM
Well, the Patrick Kane legal saga has entered into an entirely new dimension of weird. To put it as eloquently as possible – Huh?
Let’s briefly recap what the hell happened Wednesday.
The attorney for Patrick Kane’s accuser, Thomas Eoannou, called a press conference about the case. He proceeded to waive a bag around he claimed to be the “real” evidence bag that had held the rape kit administered to his client (the alleged victim) on the night of the incident.
He then told the press that the bag was found in the doorway of his client’s mother’s home. It was allegedly shoved between a storm door and the front door on Tuesday afternoon.
The hospital where the rape kit test was administered, he claims, has confirmed the validity of the evidence bag as it contains the initials of the nurse, the victim, and the victim’s personal information.
After stating all of this, Eoannou lambasted the prosecution and the investigators saying, “In my 30 years plus of being both a prosecutor and a defense attorney, I have never seen an evidence bag outside of a police lab, a prosecutor’s office or a courtroom – let alone find one in the doorway of a rape victim mother’s home.”
He then called for an investigation into how this happened and demanded a Federal investigation. Hours later, in contrast, the Erie County Crime Lab released this statement, “All evidence related to this case is accounted for and remains in its original packaging.”
— Mark Poloncarz (@markpoloncarz) September 23, 2015
So then one bag is a fake and one bag is real.
How the alleged “real” evidence bag would have ended up on that doorstep and whether it is the “real” evidence bag still remains unknown.
What is known is that tampering with physical evidence is no small crime. It’s a felony in all jurisdictions, and the New York State penal guidelines put sentencing at a maximum of 20 years.
Add in that this evidence bag contained a rape kit and most likely is, or was, secured in police lockup, and this has developed into a legal issue almost as big as the one Kane is dealing with.
Why Eoannou felt the need to have a press conference 24 hours after the bag was supposedly discovered rather than handing the bag to investigators is perplexing. Eoannou has no role in the criminal matter and putting this bag on display will only hurt the criminal case that prosecutors are building against Kane.
Perhaps at this point Eoannou and his legal team already feel the criminal matter is tainted, and therefore, he has now set his sights on not one but two civil cases. The first being against Kane and the second against the Erie County Prosecutor’s Office.
In the meantime, we will anxiously await the answer into what happened with the “real” evidence bag. Until then I’m ready to assume the worst about the latest Patrick Kane mystery.
That it was Marian Hossa in the library with the rope.
UPDATE: 9/25/2015, 10:30 AM
On Wednesday, things got weird in the Patrick Kane case.
There was a mysterious evidence bag left on the doorstep of the alleged victim’s mother’s home.
There was an attorney who claimed the evidence bag was the same one that had held the rape kit administered to his client on the night of the alleged incident.
There were angry claims by the same attorney that Erie County (NY) investigators may have been the ones responsible for allowing that bag to end up on the doorstep.
And finally, Erie County officials responded that the “real evidence bag” was actually still safely in their possession. So yes, Wednesday was weird.
Then Thursday happened.
Because a little more than 24 hours after his Wednesday press conference, the lawyer of Patrick Kane’s accuser, Thomas J. Eoannou, had another press conference on Thursday telling the press that he withdrew from the case.
“I no longer have the confidence in the manner and means in which that bag came to my office.”
Eoannou continued saying, “The manner in which [it] was presented to me, in which I received it, I’m uncomfortable, and thus I do not believe the version of events is accurate. I called this press conference to let everyone know my concerns and that I’m withdrawing from the case.”
He wanted to make a name for himself, so once he heard “the story” from his client (Tuesday), he called a press conference.
At the Wednesday press conference he got on his soapbox and blasted investigators without fact-checking or consulting with investigators.
Then he saw the response from Erie County investigators, looked into the story a little more, realized the story had massive holes in it, and finally understood the serious mistake he had made.
So what does this mean?
Whether it was a member of the alleged victim’s family, some sick twisted person playing a joke, or as I guessed, Marian Hossa in the library with the rope, we have a hoax on our hands.
The biggest clue into who may have been involved in perpetrating the hoax is found in Eoannou’s method of withdrawal.
Eoannou, while not officially appearing on behalf of his client, essentially made what is called a “noisy withdrawal.”
A noisy withdrawal can often occur when an attorney discovers that they have participated unwittingly in illegal or unethical conduct on behalf of her client.
Once discovering the conduct, an attorney still has an ethical obligation to preserve a client’s secrets, but also can’t continue to perpetrate the conduct.
So, in his own interest, the lawyer dissociates himself from the client’s conduct by withdrawing for vague enough reasons not to hurt his client legally, but “noisy” enough reasons to protect his own ass.
Here Eoannou was noisy indeed. Although he didn’t reveal the specific details of what he found out about the story, he confirmed that the real story was indeed “not accurate” and that he “had no confidence in the story” that was told to him.
He even went as far to say that he had an “ethical responsibility to withdraw from the case.”
Eoannou made a big mistake and he knew it.
My guess is that we find out who else made a big mistake soon. During a press conference Friday morning, Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita put forth who he thinks that may be.
Sedita identifies the mother as the source behind the bag story, says unlikely charges will come against woman, who he says denies it.
— David Haugh (@DavidHaugh) September 25, 2015
UPDATE: 9/25/2015, 12:46 PM
Well the mystery of who is responsible for the Patrick Kane “evidence bag hoax” is solved.
It was (drum roll please) Kane’s alleged victim’s mother.
The Prosecutor in the Patrick Kane investigation, Frank Sedita III, confirmed at a press conference Friday (the third in three days) that it was indeed the mother who created the “evidence bag hoax” in Erie County, New York. A hoax in which the mother allegedly claimed (through her daughter’s now former attorney) that an evidence bag that contained the rape kit administered to her daughter on the night of the alleged incident was found on her porch.
Sedita made clear that no charges could or would be brought against the victim’s mother. This is true because the mother in creating the hoax did not actually tamper with real physical evidence, did not impede the investigation, and she did not lie directly to investigators just her daughter’s lawyer.
Likewise, the alleged victim’s attorney is also clear from any wrongdoing. However, there is no question he is still looking for his jock strap today.
While Sedita confirmed the mother’s involvement he did not confirm or know whether the alleged victim was involved in the hoax. Under ethics rules he can’t directly speak to the alleged victim without attorney’s being present.
If the alleged victim was not involved, Sedita made clear that she couldn’t be blamed for what her mother did.
At this time Sedita made clear that the Patrick Kane case is not being dropped.
However, what Sedita said next may have risen to the Chelsea Dagger level for Kane and his legal team.
I’ll weigh whether to administratively close the investigation and what [the mom did] will definitely be a factor.” Further, Sedita stated that question is not when this case goes to a grand jury, but if.
So while this hoax did not kill the case, it certainly may have damages the case in Sedita’s mind. Most likely, because he probably knows where public opinion on the Kane case has gone in the last 48 hours.
An indication of this is when Sedita admitted at the press conference that he made the mistake of listening to sports talk radio this week. Why was it a mistake? One can assume that callers were not gentle to him, or the Erie County Prosecutor’s office.
Further, while no one questions the sincerity of Sedita’s prosecution of Kane, it is easy to see that this case could not have come at a worse time for him.
Earlier this year Sedita announced he would be seeking a seat on the New York State Supreme Court.
If elected in the upcoming fall elections, he has said he would leave his post at the end of 2015.
There is no doubt Sedita knows, like all political and judicial candidates, that he is under the microscope. And that the Patrick Kane case, good or bad, could be a determinant of his future success.
Therefore, with the DNA evidence being suspect, new reports that a key witness (a college friend of the alleged victim) has begun to have questions about testifying, the grand jury hearing getting continued, and now the evidence bag hoax, the writing may be on the wall for Sedita.
One could assume that charges could be dropped at some point in the next few weeks, but in this case one simply can’t assume anything.