Searching for truth in the Patrick Kane saga
By now everyone knows the news about Patrick Kane, the Chicago Blackhawks star wingman. Kane is currently under investigation for sexual assault and it didn’t take long for the rumors to spread like wildfire. Over the weekend, I counted dozens of editorial commentaries posted on social media, regurgitating a variation of the same information. That’s not counting local TV and ESPN, either, which was, at times, indulging murky details on an-almost hourly basis.
New information this week from Kane’s driver, an off-duty police officer, suggested he saw no inappropriate contact between Kane and the victim on the night in question. Once again, Kane’s loyalists came to his defense and his detractors went into frenzy. The loyalists (in many ridiculous harangues) ridiculed the accuser as an opportunist; the detractors called the driver’s claim a cover-up. Rumor after rumor, innuendo after innuendo.
My three sons and I are big sports fans. We root for the Bears, no matter how futile they may be. We cheer for the Bulls, no matter how much I long for the Jordan days (coincidentally, MJ has been in court as part of his lawsuit against Dominick’s). We root for the Cubs, who are finally becoming relevant again. And, of course, we cheer for the Blackhawks. This past season we watched proudly as Kane, Patrick Sharp, Marion Hossa and Coach Q hoisted the fabled Stanley Cup on center ice. We watched players make appearances on late night TV. We watched as the team showered in heaps of confetti, and we watched them—for all intents and purposes—turn into bonafide heroes.
These so-called heroes figure prominently for my sons and for other kids around the country. So I was only mildly surprised when, last week, my 10-year-old mentioned Patrick Kane and the words “sexual assault” and “rape” in the same sentence. With all the chatter out there, it seemed inevitable. It was also surreal to hear him speak in “adult” terms.
I’ve handled hundreds of cases in my career, and from the moment we begin the litigation process our objective always centers on the facts; we dismiss speculation because, in the end, only facts matter. The court of public opinion, however, has different standards. Truth is a matter of perception. And for the most ardent Blackhawks fans in this situation, as is clear in some nasty commentary levied against the accuser, it’s also a matter of misguided selfishness. The contention of many Blackhawks fans, if only to win more Stanley Cups, is that Kane is innocent. For others, Kane is as guilty as Ray Rice, where the evidence was indisputable.
It’s hard to reserve judgment. I don’t presume to know the facts of the case. I’m certainly not diminishing its severity. Maybe the bigger issue is how we choose to talk about it, and what our kids are bound to learn in the throes of a 24-hour news cycle. When I spoke with my son about his perception of the case, we tried not to dwell on speculation. I treated him the way I would any client and/or lawyer: Facts first. The truth is what matters.
I’m not sure what happened at Patrick Kane’s home near Buffalo. I’m not sure if he’s innocent or guilty. I’m not sure if he’ll be in a Blackhawks uniform next winter. But I’m sure my son’s thinking about it. As a parent, the best I can do is to make sure he’s thinking about it the right way.