Legal Ethics

A day after making evidence-bag claim, lawyer for hockey star's accuser abruptly quits

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Updated: A lawyer for the woman who accused Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane of sexual assault abruptly quit the case on Thursday, a day after he held a news conference about a mysterious evidence bag.

The lawyer, Thomas Eoannou, said he no longer believed the story provided by the victim’s mother, who had alleged someone left an empty evidence bag that once contained her daughter’s rape kit outside her front door. The Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times covered the latest development.

After Eoannou aired the rape kit claim on Wednesday, Kane’s lawyer, Paul Cambria, said a DNA test of the rape kit had found DNA on the accuser’s waist had a mixture of male profiles, but none matched Kane’s DNA. Cambria suggested the evidence bag allegation was intended to undermine the DNA findings.

In a news conference on Friday, Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita alleged the evidence bag was part of an “elaborate hoax” apparently perpetrated by the accuser’s mother, report the Chicago Tribune, and the Buffalo News.

Sedita said the paper bag is a hospital bag, rather than an evidence bag, and it was given to the victim’s mother at the hospital to hold her daughter’s top. The rape kit was never in a bag, Sedita said, and it has never left the custody of the laboratory.

Sedita said he won’t bring charges for the hoax because it isn’t illegal to lie to a private lawyer.

Eoannou, of Buffalo, New York, said he began to doubt the story when someone provided information about “misrepresentations” concerning the evidence bag. “I do not believe the way in which it was explained to me was the manner in which it was found,” he said.

Eoannou said he believed he was ethically required to withdraw from the case.

The victim’s family released a statement saying they intended to pursue the case “to a just conclusion” and there was no evidence the accuser had any knowledge of the evidence bag before it was disclosed to Eoannou.

Updated at 11:55 a.m. to include prosecutor’s hoax claim.

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