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Why The Patrick Kane Circus Has No Winners

Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita addressed the media Friday about allegations of evidence tampering in the sexual assault investigation of Patrick Kane. AP Photo/Gary Wiepert

CHICAGO -- The lead prosecutor in the increasingly confounding sexual assault investigation of Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane was clearly incensed Friday morning as he discounted the claim of tampered evidence by the accuser's mother.

In defending the integrity of his office, Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita called it "a bizarre hoax." And speaking of the allegations leveled in a news conference conducted this week by the former attorney of the accuser, Sedita said, "It is a dog-and-pony show."

It is also, unfortunately, the newest and most convenient example for those whose first inclination is to bash claims of sexual assault and the women making those claims.

Despite the fact that the Kane investigation continues, some have already filed it under the same category as notorious cases that unraveled under doubt and false allegations, like the Duke lacrosse case or the Rolling Stone cover story about the University of Virginia.

Social media is filled with accusations that alleged rape victims are liars and whores, that women making up stories about being assaulted is a virtual epidemic, that those defending or even reporting on such victims should be beaten or raped themselves.

The mess surrounding the Kane case only propagates this garbage. And makes it harder today than it was yesterday for victims of sexual abuse to be taken seriously.

Somewhat lost in the rubble of the past few days but filed under the long list of ugliness regarding this case is also this little nugget: Thomas Eoannou, while announcing his resignation as the lawyer of Kane's alleged victim, revealed her first name. He later cited exhaustion as his excuse.

If that's not troubling enough, there were the candid words of Sedita in discussing the future of the investigation. Asked whether the mother's false allegations have hindered his office in finding the truth, he said, "It sure doesn't help. ...

"The question in my mind is not when this case will go to a grand jury, it's if this will go to a grand jury."

He did make a point a few times of saying the alleged victim has not been implicated by her mother's actions. "A child is not usually guilty of sins perpetuated by a parent," he said.

Of course, there are those who will say the only victim here is Kane, a segment of his fans likely to elevate him from a guy with questionable judgment throughout his career to an even bigger hero or martyr. This case could also feed into the athletes-as-targets theory, certainly something we have to grapple with, though research has shown that false reports of rape are somewhere between 2 and 10 percent.

Each case should be treated individually, a statement as obvious as it is probably naïve. The Kane saga has indeed been a circus -- a word Sedita used Friday -- from the beginning -- from the double standard with which Kane seemed to be treated, to the news conference in which he was propped up publicly by his team and told to say nothing, to this latest tampering hoax. To regard it as any sort of case study, let alone a precedent, would be ridiculous.

Sadly, it is just another disturbing story in a sea of them, another disappointing chapter in what falls under the vast and troubling umbrella of sports coverage these days.

Another reason for all of us to get a little angrier.