The NHL announced Wednesday that their independent investigation into what the league called “the Patrick Kane matter” has been completed and that the matter is considered closed. Kane was accused of raping a woman in his Hamburg, N.Y. home in August. After a lengthy investigation by local authorities, no charges were filed against the Chicago Blackhawks forward.
Details of the NHL’s independent review have been scant until the league released the following statement Wednesday:
The National Hockey League announced today that it has completed its independent review of the Patrick Kane matter, the final stage of which included an in-person meeting between Kane and Commissioner Gary Bettman in New York on Monday, March 7. Based on its review, including the determination made by the Erie County District Attorney not to pursue charges, the NHL has concluded that the allegations made against Kane were unfounded. The League considers the matter closed and will have no further comment.
How the investigation was conducted and who was involved, aside from the commissioner’s face-to-face with the player, remains unclear.
Here's a brief timeline of the events as they unfolded from the beginning of the initial police investigation to today:
Aug. 7: Hamburg Police confirm that they were investigating an incident that allegedly occurred at Kane’s home the preceding weekend, following a Buffalo News report that Kane was at the center of a rape investigation.
Sept. 17: While the investigation remained open, Kane was allowed to participate in Blackhawks training camp. In a press conference before training camp, Kane issued a statement saying that he would be absolved of wrongdoing.
Sept. 23: The investigation took a dramatic turn when the attorney for the alleged victim suggested there may have been evidence tampering, citing what he purported to be an evidence bag that had mysteriously shown up on the accuser’s mother’s door. A day later, attorney Thomas J. Eoannou announced he would no longer represent the accuser.
Sept. 25: Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita, who was reluctant to speak publicly about the case throughout the process, revealed that the allegations of evidence tampering were nothing more than “elaborate hoax” perpetrated by the accuser's mother and went into great detail regarding the chain of custody of the evidence tied to the case.
Nov. 5: Sedita issued a press release stating that his office would not charge Kane, citing inconsistencies in witness accounts, as well as DNA results not corroborating the accuser’s claims and contradictory physical evidence.
It was also revealed at that time that the alleged victim had no longer wished to go forward with prosecution.
“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,” Sedita said in his final public statement. “Accordingly, the Office of the Erie County District Attorney will not present this matter to an Erie County Grand Jury.”
March 9: Now the NHL has revealed its own investigation has been closed.
Perhaps it was merely coincidental, but hours before the NHL’s announcement regarding the closing of their investigation, Sports Illustrated announced Wednesday that Kane would be featured on one of the publication’s regional covers. Within the magazine, there is to be a feature on Kane, his career to date and will also touch on the off-ice allegations.
Amid the ongoing NHL investigation, Kane has not missed a game for the Blackhawks this season. and is having the most productive year of his career, with 89 points through 67 games. Kane is leading the league’s scoring race by 16 points heading into the final month of the season and could become the first American-born player to win the Art Ross Trophy. He is also a leading candidate for the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s MVP.
All the while, these allegations and the league’s quiet investigation has loomed in the background. Even with the league’s findings as they are, going as far as to say the allegations were “unfounded,” it is unlikely to end the ongoing conversation and frequent debate these allegations and what has happened in the months since have sparked.