November 10, 2017 18:51 GMT by theguardian.com

Patrick Kane rape charges dropped over lack of evidence

Patrick Kane rape charges dropped over lack of evidence

Prosecutors announced on Thursday that they will not bring rape charges against Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane

Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane will not face rape charges in western New York. A woman accused the player of rape in August, in Kane’s hometown of Hamburg.

The decision was announced by the Erie County prosecutor, Frank Sedita III, in a press release that explained his rationale but did not provide details on why the alleged victim’s allegations were inconsistent.

“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 said.

Sedita said DNA from a rape kit “lend[s] no corroboration whatsoever to the complainant’s claim,” and that “the physical evidence and the forensic evidence, when viewed in tandem, tend to contradict the complainant’s claim that she was raped on Kane’s bed.”

The announcement comes one day after sources leaked to local media that the alleged victim signed a “non-prosecution affidavit”. The prosecutor said the alleged victim’s decision to stop cooperating weighed heavily in his decision. Anonymous sources told the Buffalo News that the investigation caused “tremendous stress” for the woman and her family.

The woman alleged that on the night of 1 August she and a friend met Kane while drinking in a downtown Buffalo nightclub. The three then went to Kane’s lakefront mansion in Hamburg, driven by his chauffeur, an off-duty Buffalo police officer. It was there the woman alleged she was raped by Kane in his bed, and went to the hospital the following morning for a rape examination, the Buffalo News reported.

Sedita took pains to emphasize that Kane made no incriminating statements, though he refused to speak to police throughout the investigation. Kane, the prosecutor said, “has made no known incriminating statements to any civilian, nor has he engaged in any conduct consistent with a consciousness of guilt.”

Sedita’s announcement comes two days after he was elected judge – unopposed and endorsed by both the Republican and Democratic committees – for a 14-year term that he called the “pinnacle” of his career.

Sedita’s decision not to prosecute comes after a highly secretive investigation, where most information provided to the media was through leaks and anonymous sources. Hamburg town police, to date, have refused to provide any investigative notes to reporters, denying open records requests to local media and threatening to do the same to Guardian reporters.

The alleged victim, meanwhile, was under a microscope both locally and nationally as the investigation played out. On social media, users revealed what they believed to be the woman’s identity, questioned her motives and sought to publicly shame her.

In Chicago, Kane’s guilt or innocence was a hot button topic, spurring dozens of editorials and leading one female local reporter to avoid her office after Kane supporters said she deserved to be “killed,” and said that one knew her daily schedule.

At least one local newspaper joined social media users in criticism of the alleged victim, publishing photographs of what the editors believed to be her father and revealing details of the woman’s identity (without explicitly naming her).

The case at one point took a bizarre turn, when the alleged victim’s attorney claimed a rape kit was found on her mother’s doorstep. One day later, Sedita held a press conference calling the claim an “elaborate hoax”.

Though the alleged victim’s mother denied she’d planted the “rape kit”, Sedita said flatly: “I don’t believe her denials.”

Sedita revealed in the same press conference that he shared the results of the rape kit with Kane’s attorney, Paul Cambria, before even bringing it to the accuser’s attorney, an unheard of practice according to experts that spoke to the Guardian.

“Generally speaking, the sins of the mother and father are not usually transferable to the daughter or the son. However, if the investigation further reveals the complainant was somehow involved in this, knew about this, then that could be very relevant,” Sedita said. “But we haven’t gotten to that point yet.”

Kane is widely known in the metro Buffalo area, and a Guardian reporter found residents widely sympathetic towards Kane. Kane was the NHL’s top draft pick in 2007, has won three Stanley Cups in the past six years with the Blackhawks, and won a silver medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Cambria told the Associated Press he was not surprised. “I agree that the case is rife with doubt.” The accuser’s lawyer, Roland Cercone, did not immediately return a message left seeking comment, nor did a spokesperson for the Chicago Blackhawks.

The decision ends a high-profile investigation that led to Kane’s removal from the cover of a popular NHL video game, and chants of “She said no!” and “No means no!” during a couple of early road games for the Blackhawks. Kane maintained his innocence throughout the case.

Read more at theguardian.com