Rozner: No winner in Patrick Kane saga

 
 
Updated 11/5/2015 8:08 PM
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  • Prosecutors say Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane will not face criminal charges after being accused of raping a woman in his home over the summer.

    Prosecutors say Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane will not face criminal charges after being accused of raping a woman in his home over the summer. associated press/September 2015

So where does Patrick Kane go from here?

It's not the first time the question has been asked, and whether it's the last will be up to him.

He has survived another destructive and distracting public episode and will not be charged with a crime in the sexual-assault case in upstate New York.

The prosecutor released a statement Thursday is which he said the allegation "is rife with reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the Office of the Erie County District Attorney will not present this matter to an Erie County Grand Jury."

Kane said from the start he did nothing wrong, and the district attorney did not find facts to support any charges.

Kane's attorney has said that a civil case is still possible, at which point more details could emerge and perhaps shed more light on the case, unless it is settled out of public view.

While most people have already decided Kane's innocence or guilt in the court of public opinion, the case will not be heard in criminal court, which is hardly a surprise.

If you thought differently at any point since the story broke, the numbers tell another story.

Not only are the accusers in sexual-assault cases frequently shamed, blamed and defamed, 98 percent of sexual assaults go unpunished, 68 percent go unreported, there's a sexual assault every two minutes in America, and one in six women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network).

We will probably never know what occurred in Kane's home, but from the start it seemed unlikely any criminals charges would come of it based on the statistics.

Kane is an NHL superstar, and his team is the marquee franchise in the NHL today. It gives him a pulpit from which to say anything he wants, and the hero's welcome he receives every time he touches the puck -- or does something dazzling on the ice -- might embolden a man who has had trouble playing within the rules off the ice.

He has a chance again now to stand up and walk straight, but that would entail changing his lifestyle and ridding himself of those who enable his behavior, instead surrounding himself with people who actually care about him and how he behaves moving forward.

As for the accuser, her life will never be the same.

In many of these public cases, the woman is forced to leave a job, a home and a city, or be reminded constantly that she is nothing more than a common streetwalker, the worst kind of knuckle-dragging, misogynistic filth that makes you question the future of the human race.

I have seen and heard the worst of it the last three months, from my Score colleague Julie DiCaro -- herself a sexual-assault victim -- being threatened and unable to go to work because she reported on the story, to emails and social-media reaction that would shock even the most hardened among us.

Nothing has been more stunning than the response from some women. I will not embarrass her by printing her entire name, but in late September "Sharon" sent me an email that said, "It is definitely poor judgment to drink with a professional athlete, then accompany him back to his home, if you are not planning on having sex with him."

In other words, whatever happened, she deserved it. Consent in Sharon's mind was awarded the minute the accuser lifted a beverage off the bar or set foot in Kane's home.

I understand that most fans so worship their sporting heroes that they believe it impossible for them to do anything wrong, but notes like those really stop you in your tracks.

On the other hand, I also received notes like this one from "Michelle," a licensed clinical psychologist:

"I understand the psychological principles behind 'victim blaming.' And sadly, women tend to engage in it more than men. Women need to believe in a 'just world phenomenon' to feel safe in it; meaning you get what you deserve. Bad things happen to bad people.

"The 'just world phenomenon' gives women a false sense of control and protection that they will not be a victim. Therefore, to maintain this phenomenon you need to blame the victim for their behavior, thus removing risk that this could happen to you.

"We fight so hard to educate people on this and to end the victim blaming. We clearly have a lot more work to do.

"When I was working with the court system, prosecutors for sexual-assault cases typically didn't want women on their jury because they would be more critical of the victim and less likely to return a guilty verdict."

Over the last three months, I asked -- in this space and on radio and TV -- that the presumption given to Kane also be given to the accuser, but we don't live in a world where that exists and it's a window into society's treatment of -- and consideration for -- the accuser in a sexual-assault case.

There is no winner here and we will never know precisely what occurred. Kane has suffered and so has the accuser. Neither will ever be the same.

They will try to recover and move on with their lives, and they will have to do it publicly and with complete scrutiny.

Only two people know the real story, and how they move on from that night will determine whether they survive the horrific scars of a public discussion of a scary subject.

Here's hoping -- somehow -- that something good comes of it.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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