NHL rightly closes investigation of "unfounded" allegations against Patrick Kane

Earlier today the NHL finally closed its investigation of Patrick Kane relating to the August 2015 rape allegation against him. As a practical matter, the NHL had to eventually bring closure to the matter – they had said they were investigating and they had an obligation to report that they were done investigating, even it if seems like they are dredging up events that many would like to leave behind.

In November, I wrote that I expected the league to issue a one-paragraph statement by Thanksgiving announcing that no discipline would be assessed against Kane. I thought the league would have acted sooner in order to get this story behind it instead of having it resurface as it has today. But let’s just assume the league did its due diligence and that’s why it took longer for the league to clear Kane than it did for the Erie County District Attorney.

I have no problem with the NHL stating that the league has “concluded that the allegations made against Kane were unfounded.” Barry Petchesky at Deadspin.com was “genuinely shocked” at that wording. He notes that the District Attorney had stated the case was “rife with reasonable doubt” and that the evidence “does not sufficiently substantiate the…allegation” and yet still takes issue with the league declaring it “unfounded.”

I get that he means it is impossible to really know, “epistemologically”, what happened. But it is actually quite fair for the league to find the allegations unfounded based on a review of the D.A.’s statements about the investigation. The written statement from the D.A.’s office received most of the attention when it was released on November 5th. After a three month investigation, the D.A.’s statement mentioned “significant material inconsistencies”, “no corroboration whatsoever to the complainant’s claim of penetration”, and that the physical and forensic evidence “tend to contradict the complainant’s claim that she was raped on Kane’s bed.”

But as strong as those statements are in favor of Kane, there is one aspect of the case that seems to have gotten very little attention despite being highly unusual and informative. On the same day the D.A. announced that the case was closed, he did an extensive interview with a Buffalo TV station where he candidly discussed the case and the process that led to the decision to not pursue an indictment. You can watch the interview here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

That interview reveals that the police found significant problems with the complainant’s allegations from the very start. He reveals that the police subpoenaed and obtained Kane’s cell phone and text messages; they interviewed numerous witnesses, including the accuser’s friend who was with her that night; they found significant inconsistencies and contradictions between the accuser’s claims and the other evidence; and that “relatively early on there were some suspicions by the investigators”. It is fair to rely on these conclusions and statements from a highly reputable district attorney and conclude the allegations were indeed unfounded.

Kane continues to pay a price in the court of public opinion which is notoriously misinformed. If you have any serious interest in the reasons why Kane was not charged, I highly recommend you watch the full interview. I suspect someone at the NHL did.

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Filed under: Legal, Patrick Kane

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