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Prosecutor in Patrick Kane case: Evidence 'not compromised,' cites 'hoax'

Erie County, New York, District Attorney Frank Sedita III holds a rape kit box as he addressed allegations of evidence tampering in connection with the alleged sexual assault case involving Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane in Buffalo, on Friday. AP photo/Gary Wiepert

The Patrick Kane sexual assault investigation took another bizarre twist Friday, with a Buffalo prosecutor saying the alleged victim’s mother was behind an “elaborate hoax” that prompted the accuser’s attorney to quit the case late Thursday.

Speaking publicly for the first time about the high-profile case, Erie County, New York, District Attorney Frank Sedita denied that key evidence in the case — a rape kit — had been “tampered with or compromised.”

“There was no evidence of tampering,” Sedita said at a news conference in Buffalo. “We believe that a person — the complainant’s mother — has engaged in an elaborate hoax.”

Sedita said an empty brown paper bag the accuser’s attorney held up for reporters Wednesday never contained a rape kit done for the case, as the attorney claimed.

“What we have here is an individual — she denies it, by the way; I don’t believe her denials — we have an individual who brought a brown paper bag to an attorney . . . claiming she found that brown paper bag in her doorstep,” Sedita said at a news conference. “That’s false.”

Sedita went to considerable lengths Friday — even showing reporters surveillance video — to explain how the real rape kit in the case had been carefully moved from one place to another, following all of the proper protocols.

Asked whether the hoax had hindered his investigation, Sedita said: “It sure doesn’t help.”

His first comments on the case involving the Blackhawks star came after a strange series of events that began Wednesday with Thomas J. Eoannou, the lawyer for Kane’s accuser, holding up a crumpled, brown paper bag and telling reporters it had once contained the rape kit done on his client.

“It is authentic,” Eoannou said then — labeled with his client’s name, date of birth and the location where the rape kit was done.

Demanding an investigation, Eoannou told reporters the accuser’s mother came home from lunch around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and found the bag wedged between her storm door and front door.

Then, Thursday, he told reporters he had been misinformed about the bag, no longer believed it ever contained evidence and was quitting as the accuser’s lawyer, even though he said he still believed her sexual assault claim against Kane.

On Friday, Sedita, the prosecutor, said an “intense and comprehensive” investigation revealed that the brown paper bag had been given to the accuser’s mother by a nurse at the hospital where the alleged victim was examined on Aug. 2. The examining nurse gave the mother the bag after learning the accuser changed her top before going to the hospital, Sedita said. He said the mother was supposed to put the top in the bag to give to authorities but never did.

Asked why the accuser’s mother might have lied about the bag to her daughter’s attorney, Sedita said, “You’d have to ask the mother.”

Sedita said he doesn’t expect to file criminal charges against the mother, because what she did boiled down to lying to a private citizen.

“I’m going to scour the law to make sure I’m right about this, but generally that’s not considered a crime under New York law,” he said.

The mother wasn’t under oath at the time, Sedita said.

“If the investigation further reveals the complainant was somehow involved in this, knew about this, then that could be very relevant,” he said. “But we haven’t gotten to this point.”

Kane’s attorney, Paul Cambria, speaking to reporters later Friday, said he thinks there might be an appropriate charge — obstruction of governmental administration.

With stakes so high, Cambria said, someone needs to be punished.

“My client’s career, my client’s reputation, my client’s liberty — all of those are involved here to the highest level,” Cambria said. “Anybody who tries to corrupt the process and to take any one or all of those things away form him should be punished. There’s no room in the system for this kind of hoax. It corrupts the system to the core.”

Cambria said Friday’s revelation “underscores what I’ve said from the beginning: Don’t jump to conclusions.”

The accusations against Kane, who has not been charged with any crime, were made in early August. The accuser said she met Kane at a nightclub and went to his waterfront mansion in Buffalo’s suburbs, where she said she was assaulted.

Asked Friday about the investigation, Sedita would say only, “The investigation into those allegations is ongoing.”

Last week, Kane said he did nothing wrong and expected to be cleared. He apologized for the distraction he has caused his family, teammates, the Blackhawks organization and fans.

Contributing: AP

Patrick Kane. File photo