CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - The NHL announced Wednesday 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.
Prosecutors had previously announced that they declined to file charges against Kane because of a lack of credible evidence in a case "rife with reasonable doubt." The accuser had signed an affidavit saying she did not want to press charges, prosecutors previously said.
Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita said a three-month investigation found that physical and forensic evidence "tend to contradict" the accuser's claim that she was raped on Aug. 2 at Kane's offseason home outside Buffalo.
"The DNA results lend no corroboration whatsoever to the complainant's claim," said Sedita, who decided against presenting the case to a grand jury for possible charges.
"I have repeatedly said that I did nothing wrong," Kane had said in a statement issued by the Blackhawks. "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."
At 26, Kane is one of the NHL's top young stars and has won three Stanley Cup championships in Chicago over the past six years, including last season.
He had been in trouble before, too, arrested after an altercation with a cab driver in Buffalo in the summer of 2009. Photos of him partying are easily found online.
But the assault case brought by a woman he had met at a nightclub was by far the most serious allegation Kane had faced.
The high-profile investigation led to Kane's removal from the cover of a popular NHL video game and fan chants of "She said no!" and "No means no!" during a couple of early road games.
"We knew all along that Patrick didn't do anything wrong," his agent, Pat Brisson, had said in a text to The Associated Press.
Sedita's decision to not pursue charges came after signs of trouble with the investigation first appeared in September.
In a strange series of events, the accuser's initial attorney, Tom Eoannou, announced that the woman's mother had found an empty evidence bag in her doorway. The attorney quit the case a short time later, saying he no longer believed the mother's story.
Sedita called the episode — apparently meant to cast doubt on how evidence had been handled — "a bizarre hoax."
Kane stayed out of sight after the investigation became public, then reported to training camp with the rest of the Blackhawks in September. 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 where he said he would be absolved of any wrongdoing and brushed aside any questions that touched on the situation.
"The very difficult part of this is when you are basically an international sports star, and as a result, a likely target," Kane's attorney, Paul Cambria, had said. "And you have to go through three months of reading things in the media that you know are not true, and they're hurtful things and accusatory things. That's a very difficult burden to bear."
Kane resisted any public signs of strain or frustration. When asked about the investigation this season, he has mostly stuck with polite comments that he was simply waiting for the prosecutor's decision.
"After a thorough investigation, we agree with the district attorney. We're not surprised that they did not go forward," Cambria said. "And I agree that the case is rife with doubt."
Kane was selected by Chicago with the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft, and last season he helped the Blackhawks win their third Stanley Cup championship in six years.
In 67 games this season, Kane leads the NHL with 89 points and his 38 goals rank second.