Patrick Kane and the Evidence Bag


I’ve been writing pretty regularly about the need for everyone involved with the Patrick Kane rape investigation—lawyers, cops, witnesses, and parties—to be quiet and stop feeding the media. If the underlying desire—regardless of whether you side with Kane’s alleged victim, or with Kane—is to find justice, you won’t find it by trying the case in the press.

On that front, Wednesday September 24, 2015 was an absolute legal shitshow.

In fact, the whole week has been pretty horrible; remember Monday’s stories about what sort of DNA was found in the rape kit? There’s no reason for the general public to know that, at this point in the investigation. But Wednesday was something different; something special.

If you haven’t already heard, Thomas Eoannou, the criminal defense attorney advising Kane’s alleged victim, held an extraordinary press conference. Eoannou alleged that someone had deposited a brown paper bag at the home of the complaining victim’s mother. He went on to claim that the bag was absolutely, positively the one that once contained the rape kit administered in August at ECMC. The bag was ripped open and empty, and on it was a hospital label with the victim’s personal details and other information. Here it is in its entirety:

Pretty dramatic stuff, and if accurate—that someone had tampered with physical evidence of an alleged crime—beyond alarming. Never before had I heard of such an egregious mishandling of physical evidence of a crime, at least in an advanced first-world democracy. While Eoannou thanked the “good samaritan” who dropped the bag off, tipping the alleged victim’s family off to this break in the chain of custody, my initial reaction was that this was some sort of intimidation.

But not so fast.

Hamburg Police had this to say about it:

So, Hamburg’s chain of custody is in order. What about Erie County, whose Central Police Services (CPS) handles and stores this sort of evidence?

So, the county can also vouch for the state of the evidence, and that it is all present and accounted for.

So what is Eoannou talking about, and what was in that bag?

Shortly after Eoannou was done talking, all the press rushed down Delaware to the office of Patrick Kane’s lawyer, Paul Cambria. There Cambria, who had not previously commented about the case, except on my personal Facebook page, sang like a canary. Patrick Kane is the real victim. Kane’s DNA was not found “below” the alleged victim’s “waist”, but others’ DNA was. Because the findings from the rape kit were helpful to Kane, his side had no motive to tamper with any evidence. Only someone unhappy with the results of the rape kit would do such a thing.

People on Twitter commented on the “money soap” and Hustler 40th Anniversary mug on the bookshelf in Cambria’s office. Paul’s Hustler Mug is on Twitter.

The spectacle grew more surreal with each passing moment.

Here is a close-up of the redacted sticker on the bag Eoannou revealed:

That’s a regular grocery bag with a hospital sticker on it. Could Eoannou be incorrect? If Hamburg and Erie County confirm that all evidence and containers are present and accounted for—secure and unmolested—was this a mistake? Was it some PR stunt designed as a response to the persistent and constant pro-Kane leaks to the Buffalo News and other media outlets?  The pro-Kane PR juggernaut has been effective and well-funded up until now—not so much for the alleged victim. She is unknown and her side has been silent, until now. The information reported by some outlets had to come from either law enforcement or Kane’s legal team.

Also, let’s parse Cambria: no Kane DNA below the waist. But what about bitemarks on shoulder? Other DNA, above the waist? What about under victim’s nails? He limited his statement very strategically. The leaks about the absence of Kane’s DNA was especially harmful because for some reason people think that you need ejaculate for there to have been a rape. You don’t.

Eoannou’s bag almost certainly at one point contained some piece of evidence that was obtained at ECMC on the morning the rape kit was administered. It’s feasible, for instance, that an item was stored in there but the police took it away in a different bag. What’s clear is that everyone with no stake in the outcome of the underlying rape case agrees that the rape kit hasn’t been tampered with.

It’s also quite clear that the delivery of that bag to the victim’s mother’s house means something. What? No one knows. No one is likely to know unless the person who dropped it off comes forward. Was it to be helpful? Intimidating?

In the end, we learned that Buffalo lawyers and media are a bit clumsy when it comes to dealing with a super-high-profile criminal investigation. Hamburg and the county were quick to react to Eoannou’s charges, and it quickly turned the matter from one type of WTF into a wholly different and distinct type of WTF.

A lot of rumors flew around today, too. No one knows what’s true and what’s not. But one thing became crystal clear on a warm Wednesday afternoon in Buffalo: that the people involved in the Patrick Kane rape investigation really, really need to stop talking to the media. All of them—Cambria, Eoannou, law enforcement—everyone. We don’t need odd press events about brown paper bags any more than we need bar owners engaging in some good old-fashioned victim-shaming.

Justice is not being served by transforming a spectacle into a circus.

Patrick Kane and DNA


It’s been quiet lately on the Patrick Kane rape investigation front. Here’s what happened in August:

Why Mark Croce went to the Buffalo News: August 9, 2015

Slut-Shaming and the Patrick Kane Case: August 12, 2015

The Patrick Kane Case FAQ: August 13, 2015

Patrick Kane’s Designated Driver Opens Yap: August 17, 2015

Paul Cambria on Patrick Kane: Don’t Prejudge: August 18, 2015

After the initial round of victim-shaming and leakage to the media, the meme over the past few weeks has been “will they or won’t they”? Specifically, will Kane and the victim reach some sort of private, civil accommodation (read: payment) in order to avoid a prosecution?

Although a civil settlement would likely involve some promise that the alleged victim would not testify against Kane or otherwise cooperate with any prosecution, it is not completely impossible for a D.A. to prosecute anyway; difficult, but not unheard-of. The upshot of it all is that District Attorney Sedita’s office mysteriously postponed the first day of grand jury testimony, and it’s scheduled to begin shortly. Reports of a possible settlement are contradictory and likely speculative.

In the meantime, Kane appeared at a bizarre press conference where he apologized for the “distraction” and otherwise generally appreciated – but did not answer – everyone’s questions.

In Sunday’s Buffalo News, however, we have more leaks from people who are likely aligned with Patrick Kane’s legal team, or else are superfans working for law enforcement. The News reports:

DNA evidence does not confirm a woman’s allegations that Patrick Kane raped her, four sources familiar with the case told The Buffalo News.

DNA tests taken from a rape kit conducted on the woman showed no trace of Kane’s DNA was found in the woman’s genital area or on her undergarments.

The lack of that DNA evidence does not necessarily mean a sexual assault did not occur, legal experts say, and the evidence involved in this type of investigation typically consists of more than just DNA. The investigation continues, and Kane has not been charged with any crime.

The only thing missing is a quote from a bar owner about how the alleged victim was asking for it.

Whoever these four sources are, they’re in the tank for Kane. Full stop. This is yet another piece of the elaborate and well-remunerated public relations war being waged against the alleged victim in an effort further to victimize her, shame her, and to try this case in the court of public opinion. Justice is not being served here – only the interests of a very wealthy and famous young man who finds himself in very deep trouble indeed.

But what about this, from a prosecutorial point of view? First, let’s ask a former sex crimes prosecutor who also happens to be a female:

“The absence of DNA and semen, in itself, does not prove that there was no rape,” said Florina Altshiler, a Buffalo attorney who worked as a sex-crimes prosecutor in Alaska. “It proves that there was no ejaculation, or possibly, that the perpetrator wore a condom.”

Altshiler said she is aware of cases in which rapists did wear condoms.

For the counterpoint, let’s ask a male, retired District Attorney:

Frank J. Clark, the county’s former DA, offered a different opinion.

If none of Kane’s DNA was found on the woman’s genital area or in her undergarments, that information “could be a game-changer” in Kane’s favor, he told The News.

“If the vaginal swabs taken at the hospital show no sign of his DNA, that could very well exonerate him of rape,” Clark said.

The occasion of a rapist using a condom is “extremely rare” in his experience. Clark said.

So there you go. Here’s a bombshell piece of leaked information of unknown provenance! What does it mean? MAYBE NOTHING, MAYBE ALL THE THINGS. Feel more informed?

Still, Kane’s DNA was found beneath the woman’s fingernails and on her shoulders, according to two of the sources, one of them a member of law enforcement.

Whatever occurred between the two prompted the woman to abruptly leave Kane’s home, call her brother on a cellphone, go to a local hospital to be examined for signs of rape, and to file a crime report with Hamburg Police, claiming that Kane attacked her, according to authorities and sources close to the case.

I don’t think its a credit – legally speaking – to the News’ four ejacualatory sources that Kane’s DNA isn’t where one might expect it to be, but rape means any unwanted penetration – however slight, so it’s likely that the alleged victim said no, Kane went for it anyway, and she managed to fight her way out of there before Kane finished. After all, Kane’s DNA was found on her, just not around her genitals or in her underwear.

Thanks to the News’ sources, we can now have this discussion: there doesn’t have to be semen for there to have been a rape.

Again: I don’t know whether or not Patrick Kane raped anybody; I certainly hope no one raped anyone. In mid-August, I implored people close to the case to stop talking to the media. As I wrote then, “…the jury pool poisoning is continuing apace — of course, no one has yet been charged with a crime, but it’s safe to say that the authorities are investigating whether one happened, and whom they might charge. So, what we see happening as the coverage lurches from Mark Croce’s victim-shaming to anonymous supporters of the alleged victim defending her, to Lieutenant Thomas English, the aforementioned designated driver turning to the News to rebut the alleged victim’s friends’ assertions.

“The whole case has devolved into a public relations battle. In this case, Kane has deeper pockets, star power, and more to lose, so it stands to reason that his PR effort would be well-funded and professional, while the alleged victim’s side has been silent, and some friends talked to the News without attribution.”

The PR effort calmed down a bit, but Sunday’s article reveals that the court of public opinion is in session, and that maens Kane’s alleged victim is now on trial. Cui bono? Obviously, Kane – casting doubt on the very existence of any “rape” certainly helps his image and bolsters those die-hard fans who refused to believe the allegations because of the identity of the accused. What if the leakers are from the DA’s office? This sort of revelation would, let’s say, soften the blow if charges aren’t filed – regardless of the whether there’s been a civil deal.

Justice isn’t being served here.

Paul Cambria on Pat Kane: Don’t Prejudge


The point of Monday’s piece wasn’t to say that hockey superstar Pat Kane shouldn’t hire an off-duty cop to be his designated driver if he wants; a designated driver is a good thing. Instead, the point was to recommend that people close to the alleged victim, and those aligned with Pat Kane, should all stop talking to the media.

At this time, the jury pool poisoning is continuing apace – of course, no one has yet been charged with a crime, but it’s safe to say that the authorities are investigating whether one happened, and whom they might charge. So, what we see happening as the coverage lurches from Mark Croce’s victim-shaming to anonymous supporters of the alleged victim defending her, to Lieutenant Thomas English, the aforementioned designated driver turning to the News to rebut the alleged victim’s friends’ assertions.

The whole case has devolved into a public relations battle. In this case, Kane has deeper pockets, star power, and more to lose, so it stands to reason that his PR effort would be well-funded and professional, while the alleged victim’s side has been silent, and some friends talked to the News without attribution.

As you might know from Deadspin, WBEN/WGRChicagoist, CBS Chicago, and Time Warner Cable News, Kane’s attorney, Paul Cambria, commented on my personal Facebook page, alleging that I was being irresponsible, and pointing out the witness credibility issue that he believes inures to his client’s benefit.

Cambria was specifically complaining about my insinuation that Kane was “trashed”. Specifically, in Monday’s story, I wrote, “So a police officer who stands by to drive Kane home when he’s too trashed to drive wants you to know that the alleged victim really wanted to go home with Kane, if you know what he means. Is this real life?” The point wasn’t whether or not Kane was “trashed”, although certainly people tend not to leave nightclubs at 3am sober.

The point was to expound on English’s motive to embellish or lie to protect his friend, who also happens to pay him. English wasn’t testifying at a trial; he had the benefit of Buffalo News reporters who took notes and simply printed what he told them. At trial, he’d have been under oath and the truth of his statements would be tested through a withering cross-examination. At trial, he’d have a duty to testify truthfully – no such duty exists when talking to the News.

That’s why the driver shouldn’t have opened his yap. The News prints his words without cross-examination or proper context, and another Kane defender gets to chalk up another point for the subject of a police rape investigation.

Trying this as-yet-non-existent case in the media is stupid and counterproductive. It cheapens the import of what happened here, and the very real accusation of violent crime.

That was, I thought, a fair point.

I don’t think Croce spoke in order to gain some advantage, except to protect a wealthy, popular customer; he also spoke to avoid liability and, ironically, to protect his reputation and that of his bar.

Cambria didn’t have much else to say, except cryptically to recommend that people keep an “open mind”, that he’s “keeping it even”, and that people shouldn’t “prejudge”. It was a lively discussion. If you want to see the rest, here it is as it appeared Tuesday morning with all comments uncollapsed.

Here’s to hoping no one else who thinks they know something and is desperate to get their name in the paper decides to talk to the press about things they saw on the night that Patrick Kane allegedly raped a woman. Everything anyone’s said – on or off the record – has been wholly irrelevant to the underlying key issue of consent.

Patrick Kane’s Paid Designated Driver Opens Yap

In the Buffalo News, friends of the alleged victim would like you to know that she’s a responsible and trustworthy sort and that she deserves people’s respect and consideration. It seemed a “too little, too late” response to the appalling victim-shaming Kane’s alleged victim received thanks to Mark Croce. (Here, once again, is the Pat Kane FAQ).

We also recently learned some details from the off-duty cop who gave Pat Kane, his male friend, the alleged victim, and her female friend, a ride from Buffalo down to Kane’s house. The cop’s information appears to contradict the alleged victim’s friends’ assertion that she didn’t want to go to Kane’s house, but went to accompany her friend. All of this cross-talk isn’t helping anyone but Kane. Everyone – and I mean everyone – should take a cue from all the lawyers involved in the case and stop talking to the press. This is especially true for the people who have ancillary “information” that bears no reasonable connection to the alleged rape itself. It doesn’t matter who consented to ride to Lakeshore with whom, or for what reason – the News has not spoken with anyone who was in the room with Kane and the woman who was allegedly raped, and that matters because what happened before – at the bar or in the car – isn’t relevant.

The same goes for the alleged victim’s friends who were trying to help. None of them are witnesses as to what happened, yet they’re talking to the media about the alleged victim’s character. I’m sure they thought it might help, but now we have people who are connected to Kane going to the press to contradict that fact. Consider that Buffalo Police Lieutenant Thomas English,

…said he supports Kane, a longtime family friend who has employed him for the past five years.

So a police officer who stands by to drive Kane home when he’s too trashed to drive wants you to know that the alleged victim really wanted to go home with Kane, if you know what he means. Is this real life?

Incidentally, Kane’s buddy whom English also drove that night is Tom Cowan, a co-owner of Rocco Termini’s ridiculously named Dog-E-Style, Doc Sullivan’s, City Tavern, and the space formerly known as Nektar on Elmwood.

“It was a mutual agreement to go hang out at the house,” English said.

So, Kane’s employee says there was consent to hang out. That doesn’t mean that there was consent to have sex.

English, in discussing the Kane matter, was not speaking as a representative of the Police Department. Officers are prohibited from speaking to reporters in official capacity.

Croce said he spoke last week with a District Attorney’s Office investigator and told his general manager to fully cooperate with the authorities in providing a list of bartenders and their contact information.

So, here’s a question – what’s on Kane’s bar tab from that night? Croce went out of his way to tell the News that Kane only had a couple of drinks and a couple of shots in an effort to establish that he wasn’t visibly drunk. Go get that information. After all, that bar tab is impartial and has no motive to support or attack anyone.

If you want to read something responsible about the Kane case in the Buffalo News – something that isn’t based on irrelevant observations, hearsay, irrelevant extraneous information, and information about the alleged victim’s character – in other words, if you want to read something that doesn’t pre-emptively poison the jury pool and attempt to try the case in the really unreliable court of public opinion, then read this “Another Voice” by Jessica Pirro from Crisis Services, and this commentary by Amy Moritz on rape culture.

The accused athletes are not unfailing heroes. They’re not your “brah” even if he did once buy you a shot. Nor do all athletes abuse their protected cocoon of athletic privilege.

So let’s step away from our corners and our fierce loyalties and take a beat.

Let’s move beyond playing the ill-informed “he-said-she-said” game and really examine the ways in which our sports culture perpetuates rape culture.

Everyone who thinks they observed something needs to shut up, and the good-hearted people who are trying to bolster the alleged victim’s character aren’t necessarily helping, either. “No comment” works, and talk only to the cops – not to the press.

Slut-Shaming and the Patrick Kane Case


Late Tuesday, an article by Maki Becker appeared on the Buffalo News’ website entitled, “People take to Twitter to victim-blame after Patrick Kane allegations.

Based on that title alone, it’s safe to say that there is some major internal strife at the Buffalo News over its editorial decisions relating to the Patrick Kane case. After all, on Sunday the Buffalo News itself ran a front-page story that contained a clumsy, misogynistic attempt at victim-blaming.

As a matter of fact, Sunday’s piece could have been entitled, “Restaurateur Takes to Buffalo News to Victim-Blame After Patrick Kane Allegations.

For the News to now decry (or, let’s say, disapprovingly highlight) a handful of anonymous Tweeters’ victim-blaming, whilst simultaneously contributing to it with the help of a rich and prominent restaurateur, is sheer chutzpah.

It’s easier to shame Twitter anonyms than it is the guy renovating the Statler.

So, the News is broadcasting that it’s bad for some random idiot with the handle @88forever (or something) using Pat Kane’s face as his avi to Tweet how Kane’s alleged victim had it coming, but it’s perfectly ok for nightclub owner Mark Croce to tell two male reporters from the Buffalo News that some woman he saw with Kane at his bar the night of the alleged incident was, “hanging all over” Kane; that she was “forward” and very “flirtatious”. It’s ok for him to add how she was possessive of Kane and demanding of his attention before she left with him and some others. Wrong.

Becker’s piece quotes Robyn Wiktorski-Reynolds from Crisis Services who calls these sorts of slut-shaming, victim-blaming comments, “misguded”, “ignorant”, adding, “these types of things have a chilling effect. It’s repeated and it creates a culture and we’re just perpetuating that culture.” She also addresed Croce’s comments:

Many people have been critical of bar owner Mark Croce’s statements to The Buffalo News describing seeing a woman with Kane at his bar on the night of the alleged attack.

Many people have also been critical of the Buffalo News for printing them because of how inflammatory and irrelevant they are.

The attack allegedly took place later that night or the following morning at Kane’s house. Croce said he did not go to Kane’s house and does not know what happened there.

“A victim should never be blamed,” Pirro said in an emailed statement about Croce’s quotes, as well as comments that have been on social media about the alleged rape. “No one chooses to be raped and any public statement that implies that is just as problematic as a perpetrator’s decision to rape.”

Wiktorski-Reynolds said blaming the victim for a rape because she – or he – showed interest in the assailant perpetuates a culture that tolerates rape.

“They say: ‘What did you expect? Why did you go to the house? Why were you drinking?’ That takes the perpetrator off the hook for not listening, not stopping. … You can change your mind. You have free will.”

The Buffalo News waited two days—and it took a female reporter—to remind people that, “In the eyes of the law, the events leading up to the sex act don’t matter…[c]onsent is one of those things that can be removed at any time during the encounter.” So, it doesn’t really matter what Croce saw, even if he could identify the woman as Kane’s accuser.

Have you noticed, by the way, complete and utter silence from the Buffalo News’ sports columnists? You’d think that a local sports phenomenon being accused of a serious felony would be a big topic. An important topic. 

On the issue of withdrawn consent—again, we don’t know what happened or what anyone will be accused of, so this is all hypothetical—what would it take for the Kane die-hards on Twitter and in the Buffalo News’ offices to take these allegations seriously?

We know from the Sunday piece that the alleged victim, “had bite marks on her shoulders and a scratch on her leg after the alleged attack.” But I’ve seen people dismiss that as not a big deal; evidence of nothing more than, e.g., rough sex.

What would it take for people to take it seriously? What if the alleged victim had been bitten several times? Would that change things for you?

Does it have to be more serious than that to prove lack of consent? What about a broken finger, would that be enough?

Would you treat it with more seriousness if the complainant, say, had a broken arm? Is that enough to show that there’s something serious going on? Then would you believe her and credit her story over that of your young, hard-partying hockey hero?

Who’s going to prosecute this case, by the way? We know that it’s very likely that D.A. Frank Sedita is running for Supreme Court—he’s all but announced. His chief of homicide Jim Bargnesi is currently running for Erie County Court. Should Sedita appoint a special prosecutor to ensure that the case is handled properly with the attention it deserves, and to ensure that electoral politics don’t have any adverse consequences on it? Should Sedita resign and pursue his judgeship and let someone take over for him in the interim? This case is a serious one with the potential to end a local sports hero’s career, and no one can afford any distractions.

Finally, I’ve already alluded to the question of Kane’s attorney Paul Cambria to represent him in this particular case due to the possibility that he observed and witnessed something having to with Kane on the night in question. The courthouse grapevine is overactive with rumors of the Kane camp already looking to replace Cambria with someone else.  Names being mentioned include Terry Connors, James Harrington, and Joel Daniels.

The Buffalo News owes it to the alleged victim in this case to do more than just have Maki Becker write a socially responsible article about blaming rape victims for the crime committed against them. It owes that woman – whoever she is – an abject apology. The editor of the paper needs to speak up and explain why the paper felt it necessary to include Croce’s inflammatory and self-serving “observations” when they represent the very slut-shaming Becker examines on Tuesday.

The Buffalo News is the only daily paper in town and it has no public editor or ombudsman. It desperately is missing a mea culpa.

In response to Becker’s piece, the News wisely shut off its Disqus comments, but two got in before the lock:

The only thing that comes to mind here is that some at the Buffalo News recognize that it really messed this up on Sunday, and that it made a serious editorial error that it can’t now undo. I don’t see a lot of people defending Croce or the News, except for the ilk that is the subject matter of the Becker piece. And in there, these words are key:

“It’s not about access to sex. It’s about power and control,” she said. “It’s about using sex as a weapon rather than something else.”

She pointed to studies by the Department of Justice that showed that “false reports” of rape are rare – about 8 percent – which include cases that couldn’t be prosecuted for a variety of reasons.

Deciding to go forward to the police to report a rape and undergoing a “rape kit” are never easy for victims of sexual violence, Wiktorski-Reynolds said.

“People aren’t going to the hospital and going to the police because it’s fun or because they’re looking for attention,” Wiktorski-Reynolds said. “It’s a very, very invasive process. It’s serious. It takes hours. There’s a lot that’s entailed.”

It ain’t the 50s anymore, Buffalo News. You went a long way towards perpetuating and promoting rape culture on Sunday. It’s going to take a lot more than pointing fingers at random strangers on Twitter to make amends. Point fingers where they more properly belong—at the people who should know better; at Mark Croce, Dan Herbeck, Lou Michel, and whoever green-lighted that garbage.