As he closed a rape investigation into Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane yesterday, a Buffalo-area prosecutor offered an unusually withering assessment of the accusation in the case, the Chicago Tribune reports. Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita III described a 21-year-old college student’s sexual assault claim against Kane as “rife with reasonable doubt” and said Kane never behaved like a guilty man. He diminished it further by referring to the investigation as “this so-called ‘case.'” The veteran prosecutor struck a remarkable tone for the 3-month-old rape investigation as he outlined what amounted to a strong defense for the hockey player and raised sharp doubts about the truthfulness of the woman’s accusation.
It is rare to see prosecutors attack an allegation as Sedita did, especially given that he stopped short of accusing the woman of making a false report. Such an attack could deter other women from coming forward to report sex crimes, legal experts and rape victim advocates said. They believe Sedita, who was elected Tuesday as a New York state trial judge, released detailed findings to deflect criticism of his decision and blunt suggestions that Kane got special treatment because of his celebrity status. “It’s an exceptional press release,” said Florina Altshiler, a former sex crime prosecutor now in private practice in Buffalo. “I’ve never seen a district attorney list all his reasons for not prosecuting a case like this. But this is also an exceptional case. It has been tried in the media from the start.” The 26-year-old Kane said, “I have repeatedly said that I did nothing wrong.”