Patrick Kane accuser's lawyer quits over doubts about evidence bag finding

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The lawyer for a woman accusing Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane of sexual assault abruptly quit the case Thursday night, saying he's no longer comfortable representing the woman because of how her mother reported finding an evidence bag they believed once held the woman's rape kit.

Thomas Eoannou told reporters he believes there were, what he called, "fabrications" in the story of how the bag was found. He added that he's no longer sure if the bag ever contained evidence from the investigation.

"I can only say that I don't know what's true and what's not true," Eoannou said during a hastily called news conference at his downtown Buffalo law office. "I received the storyline from the mother. And it's my position that I'm not comfortable with that version of the events."

Despite his concerns, Eoannou said he's still confident in the woman's allegations against Kane.

"I don't know how that reflects, and I don't think it does, on the night in question," Eoannou said of the confusion over the bag.

Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita, the prosecutor overseeing the investigation, has scheduled a news conference for Friday morning.

The woman's mother declined an interview request and instead referred to a statement the family released to the media.

"While we are disappointed that Mr. Eoannou has withdrawn from his role providing advice and counsel in the criminal investigation of Patrick Kane, we have every intention of pursuing this case to a just conclusion,'' the statement said. "It must be emphasized that there exists no evidence or allegation that the accuser herself had any knowledge of the evidence bag until it was brought to Mr. Eoannou's office.''

The AP doesn't identify people who may have been sexually assaulted unless they have come forward and voluntarily identified themselves.

Eoannou's statement was followed by Kane's attorney, Paul J. Cambria, telling The Buffalo News, "You can't trust anything about this case."

"This case needs to go away. It's tainted from one end to the other," Cambria told the newspaper. "It's obvious to me that Eoannou dropped out of the case because he was lied to by his client's family. They fabricated evidence. I told you yesterday that this whole thing was a hoax, and now it is obvious."

Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita, reached at home after the news conference, declined to comment but said he would address the issue Friday at a previously scheduled news conference.

The reversal comes after police said Wednesday that the rape kit and its packaging were handled properly, and after Eoannou held a news conference to announce the evidence bag was found by the woman's mother at the front door of her home and he had confirmed it to be authentic. He said the paper bag was labeled with personal identifying information for the woman, details on where the rape kit was used and the initials of the nurses who administered the kit.

Eoannou began having reservations about the mother's version of events after continuing his own investigation into how the bag was found and after meeting with prosecutors on Thursday. Eoannou wouldn't reveal what specific concerns he had with the mother's story. He would only say, "I'm not comfortable with that version of events."

Cambria held his own news conference later Thursday night and reiterated he believes that Kane is being victimized.

"People keep using the word victim, victim, and in my opinion, you don't know who the victim is until all the facts are in. ... This happening today is bizarre," Cambria said, noting that officials had confirmed all the evidence had been accounted for. "Today, within 24 hours of these kind of astronomical claims yesterday, we now find out that they're false."

The case has been the source of intense speculation and rumor since early August, when Kane was accused of assaulting the young woman in his waterfront mansion after they met at a nightclub. He has not been charged. Authorities have said only that they are investigating.

Kane last week said he did nothing wrong and expected to be absolved. He also apologized for the distraction he has caused his family, teammates, the Blackhawks organization and fans.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.