The local woman who accused National Hockey League star Patrick Kane of rape three months ago has notified the Erie County District Attorney’s Office that she no longer wants to cooperate in the investigation, five sources with knowledge of the case told The Buffalo News on Monday.
The woman has told authorities that the high-profile investigation has caused tremendous stress for her and her family, and that she no longer wishes to participate.
The alleged victim spoke to investigators at the District Attorney’s Office at length last week, and after that, signed a document called an “affidavit declining prosecution,” which is now under consideration by District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III, one of the sources said.
“She was no longer interested in going forward,” another source told The News.
The woman first asked the DA’s staff about the status of the investigation before stating that she no longer wants to cooperate, this source said.
Sedita, who ultimately will decide whether the case goes forward or not, declined to confirm or deny the information obtained by The News. He said he will not announce his next moves in the case until he speaks with the prosecutor who is directly handling the case.
That prosecutor is currently on vacation, said Sedita, who will be elected Tuesday as a State Supreme Court judge. He faces no opposition.
In a story published Sunday, The News quoted three sources with knowledge of the Kane case as saying it now appears highly unlikely that any criminal charges will be filed against Kane in connection with the woman’s allegations. The sources also indicated that Sedita has decided not to present evidence about the allegations to a grand jury for possible indictment.
Authorities have decided there are too many questions about the woman’s rape allegations for them to proceed with rape charges, which could put the 26-year-old Chicago Blackhawks star – a South Buffalo native who now lives in Hamburg – in jail.
The woman contacted Hamburg Town Police on Aug. 2, stating that Kane raped her in his Hamburg waterfront home after meeting her in a downtown Buffalo night club and inviting her to his home for a private gathering. The woman alleged that Kane attacked her early that morning when the two of them were alone in a room of his sprawling home on Old Lake Shore Road.
The woman went to the Erie County Medical Center to be examined for physical signs of rape, and police searched Kane’s home.
Police have never stated publicly what, if anything, they found in the home.
According to sources close to the investigation, the case began to unravel Sept. 19, when The News reported that DNA evidence did not confirm the woman’s rape allegation. While Kane’s DNA was found on the woman’s shoulders and her fingernails, it was not found in her genital area or in her undergarments, sources said.
Then, during a Sept. 25 news conference, Sedita said that his office had determined that the alleged victim’s mother took part in a “hoax” to make it look like police were doing a sloppy job of handling evidence from the case. Sedita said the woman made a false claim that physical evidence from the probe – a purported rape kit evidence bag – had been left at the home of the alleged victim’s mother.
Sedita said investigators were attempting to determine whether the alleged victim herself was involved in the hoax, but he has never said publicly what determination was made. He declined to comment on it, or any aspect of the case, on Monday.
Sedita’s former boss and predecessor as Erie County district attorney, Frank J. Clark, said it is unusual, but not unheard of, for victims of alleged sexual assaults to stop cooperating with prosecutors.
“It’s an emotional and difficult thing to do, to go through this whole process of an investigation and a trial. You have to testify in public about a degrading and horrifying event, and some people just don’t want to do it,” Clark said.
Former State Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco, now in private practice in Buffalo, said he is not surprised by the woman’s decision.
“Given all that has transpired with this case – the high-profile nature of it, the controversy over the so-called evidence bag, I am not surprised,” Vacco said. “There has been a lot of murkiness surrounding this case.”
Clark said he does not know whether there is any truth to the woman’s allegations against Kane. But if she made false allegations against Kane, then Kane is the victim, he said.
“Here is a young man ... whose public image is a big part of his career, his earning power, his ability to get product endorsements,” Clark said. “His name has been out there for three months.”
While Kane has continued to be one of the NHL’s top scoring stars this year, he has faced derisive cheers from fans in at least two hockey arenas. According to the Huffington Post Canada, fans in Philadelphia repeatedly chanted “She Said No” while Kane was on the ice there during a game Oct. 14.
Kane’s attorney, Paul J. Cambria, and the accuser’s attorney, Roland M. Cercone, did not return calls Monday seeking their comment. Cambria told The News on Friday that he has not spoken to Sedita about his plans for the Kane case.
Cercone has never stated publicly whether the woman hopes to file a civil complaint against Kane.
Vacco said, “If there ever is a civil case, and it ever went to trial, I think there would be a media feeding frenzy.”