(Reuters) - A prosecutor looking into allegations of sexual assault by NHL star Patrick Kane in New York said on Friday claims of evidence tampering was an “elaborate hoax” by the alleged victim’s mother and that the case’s rape kit was secure and in police custody.
Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita III said he was still investigating allegations that Kane, one of the National Hockey League’s best players, raped a woman last month at his lakeshore home outside Buffalo, New York.
Sedita, however, rejected claims by a lawyer who represented Kane’s accuser that an open bag that once contained the case’s rape kit was found on Sept. 22 on the doorstep of the alleged victim’s mother.
He told a news conference in Buffalo that the rape kit was never placed in a bag and it was always in a box.
In a bizarre twist, Sedita said the bag that was said to be found on the doorstep was from the hospital and contained a top that the accuser wore when she went to the hospital. He said the alleged victim’s mother had left the hospital with the bag.
“The forensic evidence in this case was not tampered with, nor was it compromised,” he said. “And the last person seen with the brown paper bag ... is the same person who purportedly discovered the brown paper bag.”
Sedita said it was unlikely that charges would be filed against the accuser’s mother because she committed no crime although what she allegedly did was “clearly immoral.”
“We believe that the complainant’s mother is engaged in an elaborate hoax,” he said. “She denies it, by the way, but I don’t believe her denials.”
The alleged victim’s lawyer, Thomas Eoannou, said on Wednesday the accuser’s mother had found the evidence bag and that it was “genuine.” But by Thursday, he said he was withdrawing from the case due to uncertainty surrounding the bag.
The alleged victim, whose name has not been disclosed, told police that Kane, a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Chicago Blackhawks, raped her in his home in Hamburg, New York, early on Aug. 2 after the two met at a nightclub.
DNA evidence gathered did not confirm the woman’s allegation she was raped by the 26-year-old Kane, the Buffalo News has reported. Kane’s attorney Paul Cambria said on Wednesday that an analysis of DNA in the case found that samples taken below the accuser’s waist contain “a mixture” of male profiles but none of the DNA belonged to the Blackhawks star.
“The question in my mind is not when this case will go to a grand jury,” Sedita said. “The question in my mind is if this case will go to a grand jury.”
Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Additional reporting by Suzannah Gonzalez; Editing by Mohammad Zargham