The mother of one the self-identified teen rape victims in a disturbing sexual assault case in Maryville, Mo. -- which may now have another shot at going to court -- alleges that as many as 10 other victims have claimed they were assaulted by the same perpetrators.
Melinda Coleman, whose teenage daughter Daisy was the subject of an explosive article published by the Kansas City Star last week, claims that a sheriff and the prosecutor who dropped all of the charges against two high school football stars accused of raping Daisy and another girl at a party in 2012 lied about the details of the case.
Daisy, who was 14 at the time of the assault, was allegedly supplied with alcohol and then raped at the home of then high school senior Matthew Barnett while she was passed out. Barnett and several of his friends later drove Daisy and her friend back to her house, depositing Daisy passed out in her yard without socks or shoes in freezing temperatures.
When Melinda Coleman discovered her daughter more than three hours later, the girl's hair was reportedly frozen against her face and her feet had frostbite.
Since the Star published a story about the case last week, Nodaway County Prosecutor Robert Rice has borne the brunt of intense backlash from the public. Most of the outcry has centered on his decision to drop felony charges against the alleged perpetrators. Rice has defended his actions, maintaining that the Colemans did not cooperate with him or with investigators. However, on Wednesday he announced that he had asked a judge to assign a special prosecutor to the case.
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“Their cooperation was not there,” Rice said in a press conference on Wednesday. “Until [a televised interview] the witnesses never told me that they were willing to cooperate and testify after they invoked their Fifth Amendment right in a deposition under oath.”
But Rice’s comments fall at odds with what Melinda Coleman has told the Star and other media outlets. In an interview with CNN, Coleman categorically denied Rice’s account of events. "That’s absolutely not true,” she said, of his allegation that she didn’t cooperate. When asked what her ultimate goal was, Coleman said, “I would like to see the case reopened, and I’d like to see some justice.”
Coleman said she worried that if the case was left as is, more girls might be assaulted.
“My concern was that some other girls came forward, and told me that the same thing happened to them with the same group of boys,” Coleman said. “When I had talked to the Sheriff initially, he said that there had been girls that had come forward and that there had been maybe even 10 other girls that had been assaulted. Later on he said that they were all liars.”
The case has even attracted the attention of the nebulous hacktivist group Anonymous, which plans to launch a “Twitter storm” and is also organizing a protest in Maryville on Oct. 22.
"We demand an immediate investigation into the handling by local authorities of Daisy's case," Anonymous said in an online statement. "We have heard Daisy's story far too often. We heard it from Steubenville, Halifax and Uttar Pradesh. ... If Maryville won't defend these young girls, if the police are too cowardly or corrupt to do their jobs, if justice system has abandoned them, then we will have to stand for them."