Prosecutors: No charges for Patrick Kane following rape accusation
Two days ago, Patrick Kane slowly walked to his locker stall in the Blackhawks dressing room at Johnny's IceHouse West, where about a dozen media members awaited him.
Looking down, he took a breath and sighed, knowing more questions were coming about the sexual assault investigation against him in Hamburg, New York.
"I'll answer some hockey questions, but there's no point of me answering anything else right now," Kane said. "Nothing's happened."
Plenty happened Thursday morning, though, and Kane can now officially breathe a big sigh of relief.
Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III, announced he "will not present this matter to an Erie County Grand Jury," meaning Kane will not face criminal charges from a 21-year-old woman who claimed he sexually assaulted her at his home last summer.
The DA's statement offered more specifics regarding the decision to drop the case:
• "The totality of the credible evidence -- the proof -- does not sufficiently substantiate the complainant's allegation that she was raped by Patrick Kane and this so-called 'case' is rife with reasonable doubt."
• "There are significant material inconsistencies between the complainant's accounts and those of other witnesses."
• "The DNA results lend no corroboration whatsoever to the complainant's claim of penetration, a required element of proof for a rape charge."
The complainant also said earlier this week that she did not want to go through a criminal prosecution. She recently signed a "non-prosecution affidavit" that said: "After fully discussing all the circumstances with my attorney, I have decided I do not wish to criminally prosecute the charges which stem out of this investigation."
She still could file a civil suit against Kane if she so chooses.
Kane's attorney, Paul Cambria, said he was not surprised by the decision to not pursue charges.
"The case is rife with doubt," Cambria told The Associated Press.
Later Thursday morning, Blackhawks officials released this statement:
"We respect the announcement today by the Erie County (N.Y.) District Attorney regarding Patrick Kane. The Chicago Blackhawks organization has taken this matter very seriously, and has tried to navigate a very sensitive situation while continually respecting the legal proceedings. At this time we will have no further comment."
The team's news release also included this statement from Kane: "I have repeatedly said that I did nothing wrong. I have respected the legal process and I am glad that this matter has now been closed and I will have nothing further to say going forward."
There were plenty of twists and turns and awkward moments throughout the three-month investigation.
The most bizarre came when the accuser's family reported that an evidence bag was left at her mother's home. The district attorney's office later ruled it was an "elaborate hoax," and the young woman's attorney declined to represent her.
Kane stayed out of sight after the investigation became public. He called off a public display with the Stanley Cup on Aug. 8 and instead spent the day with his family and friends.
One month later, Kane then reported to training camp in South Bend, Indiana with the rest of the Blackhawks. With the team facing heavy criticism for allowing him to play during the investigation, the star winger was joined by top Blackhawks executives for an awkward news conference in which he said he would be "absolved" of any wrongdoing.
He also repeatedly said "he appreciates" the questions that were being asked, but politely refused to answer most of them.
Over the next week, Kane continued to be mobbed by reporters, but as the days wore on and the season began, things returned to normal after practices and games.
Kane, 26, has been available at his locker stall almost every day, and he's often the first one in the room. At first, a Hawks media relations staff member was always within ear shot, but in recent weeks that hasn't been the case and reporters have interviewed Kane 1-on-1 at times.
Kane, however, has been booed during road games, and some Islanders fans even chanted "no means no" when the Hawks played in New York on Oct. 9. He said none of that bothered him, though.
"It almost makes you want to play a little bit better and have the puck a little more and hold onto it," Kane said on Oct. 17 before the Hawks played Columbus at the United Center. "So, I don't think it's anything that's really going to affect me. I'll get used to it the best I can but it is what it is.
"Nothing you can do. There's some passionate fans and some places that are going to be worse than others."
On the ice, Kane has looked every bit the superstar that he's being paid $13.8 million to be, racking up 8 goals and 10 assists in just 13 games to rank third in the NHL with 18 points.
On Tuesday, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville was asked for his thoughts after news came out about Kane's accuser signing the non-prosecution affidavit.
"As far as that situation, I commend Kaner and how he's handled it and the team," Quenneville said. "We haven't ever mentioned it or talked about it. … Our focus is trying to win the next game. He's gotten off to a great start to the season and it's basically business as usual."
• The Associated Press and Buffalo News contributed to this report.