Less than two months after Patrick Kane hoisted the Stanley Cup over his head to celebrate a triumphant team championship, the National Hockey League superstar is now the subject of a rape investigation by the Hamburg Police Department.
No charges have been filed, and police are under a strict gag order from superiors not to discuss the investigation. But sources close to the case disclosed the following information Thursday to The Buffalo News:
• A young local woman has alleged that Kane, 26, took her to his Hamburg waterfront home and raped her after meeting her in a downtown Buffalo nightclub Saturday night or early Sunday.
• Police searched the Chicago Blackhawks star’s waterfront home on Sunday, looking for evidence.
• The alleged victim went to a local hospital, where she was examined for physical signs that she had been raped.
• The prosecutor assigned to the case is Roseanne Johnson, who specializes in sexual assault cases and heads the Special Victims Unit in the Erie County District Attorney’s Office.
• Kane is being represented in connection with the probe by a top Buffalo defense attorney, Paul J. Cambria Jr., who also represented Kane in 2009 after he and his cousin were accused of roughing up a Buffalo cab driver.
Contacted by a reporter on Thursday, Cambria declined to comment on the investigation. He would not confirm that he currently represents Kane or that he is even aware of the woman’s allegations.
“I have nothing to say, just as I told you the other night,” Cambria said.
The News learned from law enforcement officials that at least one other local police agency has been asked to assist with the investigation, and the other police agency was told the investigation involves an allegation made by a woman against Kane.
Both Hamburg Town Police Chief Gregory G. Wickett, who did not return a call seeking comment on Thursday, and District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III have refused to confirm or deny the existence of the investigation.
It would be wrong for anyone to rush to judgment, cautioned Terrence M. Connors, a Buffalo attorney who has represented rape suspects and high-profile clients and who has been following the Kane case.
“Remember that this is merely an allegation at this point. It needs to be examined and investigated to see if there is evidence to support a criminal charge,” Connors said. “His celebrity adds another layer to this investigation.”
Potentially, it could take weeks or even months before authorities decide whether to charge Kane, Connors said.
“They’ll have to examine the rape kit and question any witnesses who may have encountered him that night,” the defense attorney said.
Kane, who grew up in South Buffalo and has many family members still living in that community, is one of the biggest stars in the NHL. He is widely considered one of the best professional athletes ever to come from Buffalo. On June 15, his Blackhawks team won its third Stanley Cup – the biggest prize in North American professional hockey – for the third time in six years.
The NHL said Thursday it was aware of the police investigation.
“We are aware of the police investigation and are following developments,” said Frank Brown, group vice president of communications for the league.
The Blackhawks had a similar response: “We are aware of the matter and are in the process of gathering information. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
Kane is scheduled to bring the Stanley Cup to Buffalo this weekend as part of the Blackhawks’ championship victory celebration. He has been unavailable for comment on the allegations this week. His agent, Pat Brisson, did not return a telephone call and an email from The News seeking his comment. But his office issued a statement indicating that he, too, is monitoring developments in the case.
Known as a strong booster of his hometown, Kane has spent much of his off-season time in the Buffalo area in recent years. In March 2012, he spent $2.68 million on a 13-room home on Old Lake Shore Road on Lake Erie. At the time, Kane’s purchase of the home ranked as the third-highest price ever paid for a home in Erie County.
This summer, he has been seen at a number of Buffalo-area night spots and also has been practicing his hockey skills by playing in an amateur team in the Fattey League at HarborCenter in downtown Buffalo. Several other NHL players also play in the league.
Western New Yorkers who encounter Kane have used social media to post photographs or remarks of their encounters with the hockey star. Some of those sightings were mentioned on posts this past weekend.
The athlete was seen enjoying a round of golf at Brierwood Country Club in Hamburg on Saturday afternoon.
“When you pass Patrick Kane at briarwood golf…” a young man posted on Twitter.
“Nice round of golf with @88PKane,” another person tweeted, along with a photo of himself with Kane and a reference to Kane’s Twitter handle.
Saturday evening and night – hours before the alleged incident in his home – Kane was seen at several locations in downtown Buffalo.
One Twitter user posted at 8:45 p.m. that she saw him at Tappo, a trendy Italian restaurant on Ellicott Street.
He was seen around midnight at City Tavern on Chippewa Street, a witness told The News.
He also was seen, according to social media accounts, at SkyBar, a rooftop bar on Franklin Street.
The bar’s Facebook account posted a photo Monday of Kane, with the bar’s owner, developer Mark Croce, and the Delaware District’s new councilman, Joel Feroleto.
“Patrick Kane stopped by SkyBar past wknd! Mark told him to bring the Stanley Cup back with him this upcoming Saturday … We think we convinced him,” the bar’s Facebook post read.
Paula Cambria, the wife of Kane’s lawyer, posted a photo of herself, her husband and another couple at SkyBar.
“Hey … Pat Kane in da house!” Paula Cambria wrote.
Other Twitter posts painted a picture of Kane enjoying himself early Sunday. It couldn’t be determined where or exactly what time these tweets were referencing.
“I kissed Patrick Kane,” one woman boasted.
“Patrick Kane bought me a birthday shot last night,” one man wrote.
On Twitter, one man said that Kane “told me he was too bombed for a pic, so of course I snapchatted a pic of him anyway.” Snapchat is a social media site where posts appear just for a few seconds.
Sunday night, a worker posted on Twitter that Kane came into Anderson’s Frozen Custard on Sheridan Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda. She wrote that she and someone else blew a kiss to him as he drove away.
A customer tweeted: “the day I wear my pajamas to Anderson’s Patrick Kane is there!!!!”
The customer, a 37-year-old Tonawanda woman, later said in a phone interview with The News that Kane was at Anderson’s between 9:30 and 10 p.m. with three or four young women.
Dressed casually in shorts and a T-shirt, it seemed few people realized who he was, the woman told The News. He looked up when she blurted out his name, she said.
Kane seemed to spend most of his time looking at his smartphone, she said.
When a reporter visited Kane’s neighborhood on Thursday, a neighbor recalled seeing people with flashlights outside Kane’s house Sunday night. He said another neighbor called 911, worried that they could be burglars, but police indicated they were aware of what was going on.
Another neighbor said he checked to see what was going on and saw three cars and about four people with flashlights looking into the house. He believes they were plainclothes police.
“Just scouring the property with flashlights,” the neighbor said.
The people went into the house and spent a total of about 40 minutes there, the neighbors said.
Neighbors said Kane is rarely at his Hamburg home but when he is there, he has never caused problems. He has had a handful of parties, but they were never rowdy. They said they had even seen him mow his own lawn on occasion.
As one person drove past reporters Thursday night, he yelled out, “He’s innocent!”