Star NHL's Blackhawks, Patrick Kane, will not face rape charges

By Steve Ginsburg

(Reuters) - NHL superstar Patrick Kane will not face rape charges because the accusations made by a woman who had met him at a Buffalo, New York nightclub contained inconsistencies and were not backed up by credible evidence, a county prosecutor said on Thursday.

The woman, whose name has not been disclosed, had accused the 26-year-old Chicago Blackhawks player of raping her at his offseason lakeshore home in Hamburg, a Buffalo suburb, in the early morning hours of Aug. 2.

Kane is one of the National Hockey League's top stars and has led the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cup championships.

"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," Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita said in a statement.

DNA evidence did not confirm the woman's allegation she had been raped by Kane, Sedita said, adding there were "significant material inconsistencies between the complainant's accounts and those of other witnesses."

"The DNA results lend no corroboration whatsoever to the complainant's claim of penetration, a required element of proof for a rape charge," Sedita added.

"The physical evidence and the forensic evidence, when viewed in tandem, tend to contradict the complainant's claim that she was raped on Kane's bed."

Sedita said the accuser had already decided not to proceed with a criminal prosecution. But, Sedita added, he still could have sent the case to a grand jury for possible charges.

"I have repeatedly said that I did nothing wrong," Kane said in a statement. "I have respected the legal process and I am glad that this matter has now been closed."

Kane and the woman had met that evening at a downtown Buffalo upscale nightclub.

The case featured a strange twist when the accuser's lawyer, Thomas Eoannou, said an empty evidence bag that once held the rape kit in the case mysteriously appeared at the doorstep of the alleged victim's mother on Sept. 22.

Sedita later told reporters the bag merely held the victim's clothes when she was at the hospital following the alleged rape and it was carried out of the hospital by the accuser's mother. The rape kit was never outside of police custody, he said.

Sedita called the episode an "elaborate hoax" by the accuser's mother. Eoannou withdrew from the case due to the uncertainty surrounding the bag.

(Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham)