By Steve Ginsburg
(Reuters) - The attorney for a woman accusing NHL star Patrick Kane of sexual assault said on Wednesday an evidence bag that once contained the case's rape kit was delivered anonymously to the home of the accuser's mother.
Attorney Thomas Eoannou said he would request an independent investigation "by a separate law enforcement agency into how this breach could have possibly happened."
He declined to speculate how the disclosure would affect the investigation, but added: "If you're looking for a surefire way to scuttle a prosecution, you may tamper with the evidence."
Kane's accuser told police that Kane, a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Chicago Blackhawks and one of the National Hockey League's top players, raped her in his lakeshore home in Hamburg, New York, early on the morning of Aug. 2 after the two met at a Buffalo nightclub.
The 26-year-old Kane, a four-time All-Star who last year signed an eight-year, $84 million contract extension with Chicago, has not been charged with any crime and has denied the accusation.
The Buffalo News reported over the weekend that DNA evidence gathered in the rape investigation did not confirm the woman's allegation she was raped by Kane. His DNA was found beneath the woman’s fingernails and on her shoulders, the News reported, according to two sources, one of them identified as a member of law enforcement.
Kane’s attorney, Paul Cambria, told reporters on Wednesday that tampering with evidence would only hurt Kane because the results pointed to his exoneration.
"The only one who might have an incentive to have the evidence questioned is someone who is not pleased with the result," Cambria said.
Eoannou said the accuser's mother picked up the empty brown evidence bag when she returned home from work for lunch on Tuesday, finding it between her door and storm door.
"We'd like to thank the person who anonymously placed the bag in the doorway of her mother's residence," he told a news conference in Buffalo. "But we would also like that person to come forward and cooperate with authorities as to how on earth this could have happened."
Eoannou said the bag had the personal identifying information of the woman and the initials of the nurses who administered the kit.
He criticized media leaks over the past several weeks, saying the reports of DNA evidence had been "devastating to my client."
"This is a classic example of why rape victims don't come forward," Eoannou said. "This is the worst example of victim bashing that I have seen."
Kane's attorney, Cambria, told reporters: "The victim has not been determined in this case. I think my client is the victim."
Cambria said he was told "there was a mixture of DNA below the waist, none of it Patrick Kane's."
(Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Peter Cooney)