BUFFALO, N.Y. (WLS) -- A major development has come to light in the Patrick Kane assault investigation, as the Blackhawks star's case will reportedly go to a grand jury next week.
According to legal experts in Chicago, this is a signal that prosecutors in Buffalo, N.Y., believe they have enough evidence to charge Kane with a crime. But they will leave that ultimate decision to a panel of 23 citizens.
It's been more than a month since police began investigating allegations that Kane raped a woman he met at a bar in his home. Authorities have said virtually nothing publicly about what evidence they have gathered and they have not filed charges against Kane.
According to reports, a grand jury of 23 people in Erie County, N.Y., will begin hearing the evidence next week. The prosecution will likely call the alleged victim and the friend who allegedly accompanied her to Kane's home to testify.
Prosecutors could file charges without a grand jury indictment. Legal experts say putting the case before an impartial jury would carry more weight.
"Prosecutors are not supposed to take cases to the grand jury unless they believe there's enough evidence that the grand jury will turn an indictment," said Richard Kling.
Defense attorneys will have to decide whether to allow the Blackhawks star to testify. If Kane gets on the stand, it would be an opportunity for him to get his side of the story out, but the burden of proof is much lighter than in a trial where a jury would have to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The grand jury merely has to decide whether there are reasonable grounds to believe first that a crime was committed and second that the defendant committed the crime. The grand jury proceedings could take up to several weeks.
Patrick Kane assault case will reportedly go to grand jury next week