Grand jury investigating Patrick Kane canceled


By Jared S. Hopkins and Stacy St. Clair, Chicago Tribune

Grand jury proceedings involving Blackhawks star Patrick Kane were hastily called off Tuesday, according to the Buffalo News.

The grand jury — which is made up of 23 residents of Erie County in western New York — had been slated to hear evidence in the sexual assault case against the 26-year-old winger. However, jurors were unexpectedly dismissed Tuesday morning without explanation.

The Buffalo News reported that the first witness was scheduled to appear at 2 p.m.


A Tribune reporter saw a number of grand jurors leave the courthouse shortly before lunch Tuesday, with several expressing surprise about the shortened working day. No key witnesses or their attorneys were seen leaving the area where grand jury proceedings are held.

Neither Kane’s attorney, Paul Cambria, nor Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita III could be reached for comment.

There could be several reasons that prosecutors would call off grand jury proceedings, including lack of a quorum. In New York, 16 grand jurors must be present to conduct proceedings, and 12 votes are needed to indict.

Prosecutors also cancel proceedings when there are problems with witnesses’ schedules or the complaining witness signals a reluctance to testify, legal experts say.

“I would have to conclude that if you cancel the grand jury after all this investigation, that means you have a problem going forward with the case,” said former Erie County prosecutor Mark Sacha, who oversaw the office’s grand jury unit for several years.

The Kane investigation could still go before a grand jury at a later date.

Kane has been under investigation over an alleged sexual assault that reportedly occurred last month at his gated mansion in Hamburg, N.Y., near Buffalo. He has not been charged with any wrongdoing.


The Tribune previously has reported that Kane spent the night of Aug. 1 at SkyBar, a popular nightclub about 15 miles from his Hamburg home, staying past midnight with friends. His attorney publicly confirmed an off-duty Buffalo police officer’s revelation that he had driven Kane, a male friend and two women to the player’s home after leaving the bar.

Hamburg police Chief Greg Wickett said last week that the case remains active.

Grand jury investigations are commonplace in Erie County, where Sedita is known for his cautious approach. Local attorneys have told the Tribune that Sedita almost always sends high-profile investigations to a grand jury, even in cases that he doesn’t intend to indict. The move — which often prolongs investigations — takes some of the responsibility for whether to charge a suspect off his shoulders.

The Blackhawks are scheduled to begin their preseason camp Sept. 18 in South Bend, Ind. The team has declined to say whether Kane will join his teammates there.