BUFFALO – Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita III said Friday that accusations of evidence tampering in the Patrick Kane case are false and that the accuser’s mother wasn’t telling the truth when she said she found an evidence bag on her doorstep.
“The forensic evidence in this case was not tampered with or compromised,” Sedita said.
Sedita said his office conducted a thorough investigation after Thomas Eoannou, the accuser’s attorney, held a news conference Wednesday saying a ripped-open evidence bag that once purportedly contained the rape kit has been left at the mother’s house by persons unknown. The mother of the accuser brought the bag to Eoannou.
A day later, Eoannou announced that he resigned as the accuser’s lawyer, saying he was ethically bound to because he no longer had confidence in how the bag had come to him.
Sedita said it won’t be known how much this hoax will impact the investigation until he determines whether the accuser knew about what her mother was doing.
“Generally speaking, the sins of the mother or father are not transferable,” he said.
But if Sedita did find evidence of the accuser’s involvement, it would clearly help Kane’s position. The Chicago Blackhawks star has not been arrested, charged or suspended by the NHL. Kane met the accuser at a Buffalo bar in early August and the young woman went with him to his lakeside home in suburban Hamburg where she alleged that he assaulted her, according to multiple news media outlets. He spoke last week for the first time, saying he would be absolved after the investigation is complete.
Sedita said the investigation is ongoing, and now additional work needs to be done because investigators have to determine whether the accuser was involved in the hoax.
“The question in my mind is not when the case will go to the grand jury,” Sedita said. “The question in my mind is if it will go to the grand jury.”
Sedita said his office knew immediately that the tampered evidence claim was not likely valid because rape kits are stored in boxes, not bags. Sedita used paper records, personal interviews and video to show a precise timeline to show that the chain of custody of the evidence was never broken. Fourteen people were interviewed over two days.
“Neither bag, not the plastic bag, nor the hospital bag contained the rape kit,” Sedita said.
Sedita identified the hospital paper bag, which had the accuser’s name on it and birthday, as the one given to the accuser’s mother for the purpose of placing her top in it while she was being examined at the hospital.
She had changed into that top at home, before going to the hospital. It was not the top she had worn on the night of the alleged rape.
According to Sedita, when police came to get the top, they put it in an official evidence bag, leaving the paper bag in the mother’s possession.
The mother was questioned, but not under oath, and she denied perpetrating the hoax.
“The last person seen with the brown paper bag on Aug. 2, 2015 is the same person who purportedly discovered the brown paper bag at noon or thereabouts on Sept. 22,” Sedita said.
Sedita said it is unlikely the mother will be charged with a crime. “It is not a crime in the state of New York to make fraudulent accusations to a private person,” Sedita said. “But we will study the law.”