Special prosecutor to look at Missouri sexual assault case
A northwest Missouri prosecutor announced Wednesday that he's asking a court for a special prosecutor to look at the case of a 14-year-old girl who says she was plied with alcohol and raped by a 17-year-old acquaintance.
Melinda Coleman, the mother of 14-year-old Daisy Coleman, claims justice was denied when Nodaway County's prosecutor dropped felony charges against the 17-year-old boy last March, two months after Coleman found her daughter passed out on the family's front porch in below-freezing temperatures.
The county sheriff and Nodaway County prosecutor Robert Rice have insisted their investigation collapsed after the Colemans became uncooperative with investigators and refused to answer questions. Coleman says she and her daughter did cooperate and that investigators didn't do enough to push the case forward.
The case has drawn international attention to the small northwest Missouri town of Maryville after The Kansas City Star on Sunday published the results of a seven-month investigation. The newspaper's story described a town where many appeared to be closing ranks around the accused and blaming the girl.
The incident happened last March. A 13-year-old friend of Daisy's also said she was forced to have sex with a 15-year-old at the same house, while another 17-year-old allegedly recorded the incident on a cellphone. The 15-year-old was charged in the juvenile system. Charges against the 17-year-old who allegedly videotaped the incident were also dropped last March.
The daughter acknowledged she and the friend left her house to meet the boys but said they gave her alcohol and she doesn't remember much of what happened next. The boys said the sex was consensual.
In recent days, Coleman has told news outlets that she and her daughter are prepared to fully cooperate with investigators.
The Associated Press does not generally name victims of sexual assault but is naming Daisy Coleman because she and her mother have been granting public interviews about the case. The AP is not naming the boys because there are no longer active charges against them.
The case has drawn comparisons to one in Steubenville, Ohio, where two 17-year-old high school football players were convicted of raping a West Virginia girl after an alcohol-fueled party in 2012. The case was furiously debated online and led to allegations of a cover-up to protect the city's celebrated football team.
Before Rice's announcement Wednesday, pressure had been building on Attorney General Chris Koster to intervene. A spokeswoman for Koster says the office has no authority under state law to reopen the investigation on its own.
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