The rape investigation against NHL star Patrick Kane took another bizarre twist on Thursday night when the lawyer representing Kane’s accuser withdrew from the case.
The lawyer, Thomas Eoannou, withdrew over concerns that the story he was told earlier this week — that the mother of the alleged victim had found the opened rape kit evidence bag on her doorstep — had been “misrepresented.”
“I lack the confidence in the story that was told to me. I looked into it, and it’s my ethical obligation to withdraw,” he told reporters.
Eoannou stressed that this in no way impacted the validity of the accuser’s story.
On Wednesday, Eoannou said in a press conference that the accuser’s mother had found the rape kit evidence bag on her doorstep when she returned home from work at 1:30 in the afternoon, and that he had taken extensive measures to confirm that it was the actual rape kit evidence bag, and not a hoax. But immediately after that press conference, the Erie County Commissioner of Public Service released a statement saying that all evidence, including the rape kit and packaging, was “accounted for and remains in its original packaging in the possession of Erie County Central Police Services.”
While Eoannou said on Thursday that he still believed that it was the legitimate rape kit evidence bag, he now felt that parts of the mother’s story had been fabricated. “I don’t have confidence in the way the bag was found,” he said.
Paul Cambria, Kane’s attorney, responded to the news of Eoannou’s withdraw by requesting that the entire investigation be halted because the integrity of the investigation has been compromised.
It has been alleged that Kane “overpowered and raped” a woman at his home in Hamburg, New York (outside of Buffalo) early in the morning of August 2nd. Immediately after the alleged attack, the woman went to the hospital for an examination and rape kit — a lengthy, invasive examination. The allegations against Kane are currently being investigated by a grand jury, and the Erie County District Attorney is scheduled to speak with reporters on Friday.
A group of female hockey writers from SB Nation and columnist Christine Brennan of USA Today have called for the NHL to suspend Kane with pay while the investigation plays out to send a message that the league takes sexual assault allegations seriously.
Kane, meanwhile, is still participating in preseason training camp with the Chicago Blackhawks. The NHL said on Wednesday that Kane’s status with the league remained unchanged.
ThinkProgress will continue to update this story as it develops.
In a press conference on Friday, the Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita confirmed that the rape kit evidence bag presented by Mr. Eoannou on Wednesday was inauthentic. “It’s a bizarre hoax, and it’s a dog-and-pony show,” Sedita said.
According to Sedita, rape kits in Erie County are placed in boxes, not bags, and the accuser’s rape kit was properly sealed and submitted to the Erie County Central Police Services (CPS) on the morning of August 2nd, and has never left CPS lab custody. The brown paper bag that the accuser’s mother brought to Eoannou on Tuesday was a hospital bag, and the clear evidence bag presented originated in Eoannou’s office. Sedita said that currently, neither Eoannou or the accuser’s mother are guilty of a crime under New York law.
Sedita said that the investigation into the events of August 2nd will continue, and that he is still deciding if this case will go to a grand jury. His office has not currently uncovered any evidence that the complainant knew about her mother’s misdeeds.