The mother of the woman who accused Patrick Kane of sexual assault was responsible for an "elaborate hoax" involving the woman's so-called "rape kit bag" supposedly showing up at their family home to make it look like evidence was tampered with, Erie County, New York's district attorney said Friday.
"The forensic evidence in this case was not tampered with nor was it compromised," District Attorney Frank Sedita said. "The last person seen with the brown paper bag was the same person who purportedly discovered the brown paper bag."
That person, he said, was the woman's mother.
"She's denying it, by the way," Sedita said, "but I don't believe her lies."
Sedita made the announcement in response to accusations of evidence tampering brought up this week by defense attorney Thomas J. Eoannou, who abruptly announced Thursday he had dropped Kane's accuser as a client.
Eoannou said at a Wednesday press conference that a plastic evidence bag containing a rape kit in the investigation supposedly found its way to the woman's family home.
Sedita said Friday rape kits in Erie County are never placed in bags.
"Evidence is usually placed in one of three types of containers: cans, bags or boxes. A rape kit is a box. This is a rape kit," he said, holding up an example. "It is a box. As you can plainly see, it is not a bag."
Sedita even showed surveillance video of the rape kit bag being placed in the evidence room, where it stayed, disproving all claims it went outside the building, or to the woman's family home.
"It was Imperative to break my vow of silence because the issue here is the integrity of the criminal justice system, and the public’s faith in the criminal justice system," he said. "If she was under oath it would be perjury."
The clear plastic bag Eoannou held up during this week's press conference, which showed the complainant’s name and date of birth, was manufactured in 2011, Sedita said.
The brown paper bag Eoannou referred to was actually the bag a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner gave the woman's mother at the hospital to put the complainant’s shirt in, Sedita said. The mother left the hospital with the bag, Sedita said.
"It’s just so bizarre," he said. "I’ve never seen something like this before."
Sedita said no charges likely would be brought against the mother.
"If you go to an attorney and you lie to an attorney and create this manufactured [story], you’re not under oath, it’s not a crime," he said. "But we're looking into it."
He declined to comment further on the investigation surrounding the incident involving the accuser and Patrick Kane.
Eoannou said on Thursday that his decision to drop his client was based on potential fabrications in a story told to him by the woman's mother of how an evidence bag containing a rape kit in the investigation supposedly found its way to the woman's family home.
“This evening information was provided to my office which has established misrepresentations were made to me about the facts concerning the discovery of the rape evidence bag,” Eoannou said. “In keeping with my ethical obligations as an officer of the court, I can no longer represent my client, and I am withdrawing effective immediately.”
Eoannou did, however, stand by all claims made by the accuser regarding the night of the alleged sexual assault.
After further investigation Eoannou said he does not believe the way the situation regarding the evidence bag was actually found by the mother. Eoannou said although he confirmed that the bag itself is authentic, he is not comfortable with "the version of events" he received.
“I no longer have confidence in the manner and means that bag came to my office,” said attorney Eoannou.
Upon learning the news, the family of the alleged victim released the following statement to WGRZ's Scott Levin, saying, "While we are disappointed that Mr. Eoannou has withdrawn from his role providing advice and counsel in the criminal investigation of Patrick Kane, we have every intention of pursuing this case to a just conclusion."
"It must be emphasized that there exists no evidence or allegation that the accuser herself had any knowledge of the existence of the 'evidence bag' until well after it was brought to Mr. Eoannou's office on Tuesday afternoon," the family continued in their statement to WGRZ. "A further statement regarding that matter will be made after the District Attorney's press conference [Friday]."
Following Eoannou's press conference, Patrick Kane's attorney, Paul Cambria, also addressed the media, saying that the investigation in his eyes is now "forever tainted." Even he couldn't believe the sudden change in representation.
"This happening today bizarre," Cambria said. "I have been practicing criminal law for many years, I've had many cases all over the United States, and I have to say this is a shocking, shocking development."
Cambria said he respected Eoannou for "engaging his ethical responsibility" by withdrawing himself from the case.
"The science was clear," Cambria said. "The testing that was done here, in my opinion, exonerated my client and I think from the statements that Mr. Eoannou made today, somebody attempted to use him to fabricate or obstruct and undermine science."
On Wednesday, the case took the first bizarre turn when Eoannou told reporters the evidence bag containing the rape kit from the investigation mysteriously appeared on his client's mother’s porch, suggesting evidence in the case could be hopelessly compromised.
"Obviously whoever made that or if there's more than one person involved, they knew the consequences of what they were attempting to do and how that could affect the case," Cambria said.
The explosive announcement came just days after reports surfaced detailing results from the rape kit conducted during the night of the alleged assault, where no trace of Kane’s DNA was found on his accuser’s genitals or undergarments. It was an event that the alleged victim's lawyer also found shocking.
"In my 30 years-plus of being both a prosecutor and a defense attorney, I have never seen an evidence bag outside of a police lab, a prosecutor's office or a courtroom, let alone find one in the doorway of a rape victim's mother's home," Eoannou said."Hopefully they get to the bottom of how this bag got opened, where the real evidence is, and if it is established, why anybody would have the incentive to tamper with a rape kit.”
Hamburg police said they had no reason to believe any evidence in the case had been tampered with and that all evidence was still accounted for. In a statement, Erie County Commissioner of Central Police Services John Glascott said investigators know where everything is, and that nothing is amiss.
"All evidence related to this case that was given to Erie County Central Police Services by the Town of Hamburg Police Department, is accounted for and remains in its original packaging. This includes the evidence in the rape kit and the packaging itself," the statement read. "This evidence has been analyzed and reports of that analysis sent to the appropriate agencies."
Kane's attorney, Paul Cambria, confirmed Wednesday that no trace of Kane's DNA was found from the waist down.
Cambria suggested his client had more to lose by compromised evidence, because so far, all tests had exonerated him from any attack. He said he doesn't believe the evidence was compromised.
"Obviously somebody else isn’t happy with the results," Cambria said. "They would have a reason to say it’s compromised. We have none."
Erie County, New York, District Attorney Frank Sedita announced he will hold his first news conference Friday to address the latest allegations in the case against the Chicago Blackhawks star.
NBC 5 will stream the press conference live beginning at 10 a.m. CT at the Office of the Erie County District Attorney.