A Kansas City-area prosecutor was appointed Monday to reinvestigate allegations levied by a Maryville teenager who said she and a friend were sexually assaulted in early 2012 by older classmates who plied them with alcohol at a local high school house party.
The case attracted national attention when the girl and her mother, who have since moved to another town, went public, saying that Nodaway County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rice acted prematurely in dropping felony sexual abuse charges against two 17-year-old boys.
Meanwhile, Nodaway County Clerk Beth Walker said Monday that public offices in the courthouse and County Administration Center, both located on the Maryville square, will close all day Tuesday due to a planned 6 p.m. protest rally downtown. In addition, police plan to prohibit parking throughout the square area.
The rally, called in sympathy with the alleged victims, is being organized by the Internet activist group Anonymous and a second organization calling itself Justice for Daisy.
Maryville authorities said the rally could attract as many as 2,000 protesters.
Rice maintains he dropped the charges in March 2012 after Daisy Coleman and her mother, Melinda, stopped cooperating, a statement both mother and daughter dispute. In the face of mounting pressure, Rice called a press conference last week to announce that he had requested a special prosecutor.
In Monday's developments, it was confirmed that Nodaway County associate Circuit Judge Glen Dietrich has asked Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker to take on that role. Baker recently prosecuted a high-profile case against a Catholic bishop accused of failing to report child abuse.
Melinda Coleman claims her daughter was given alcohol in January 2012 by a 17-year-old Maryville High School student who then sexually assaulted her daughter at his home when she became incapacitated. She has said her daughter sneaked out the night of the alleged assault.
Daisy Coleman, who was 14 at the time of the incident, said another 17-year-old videotaped the attack with a cellphone, and that a 13-year-old girlfriend who went with her that night was raped by a 15-year-old boy.
Daisy's alleged assailant, Matthew Barnett, was subsequently charged with felony sexual assault, and Jordan Zech, Barnett's Maryville High School classmate, was charged with sexual exploitation of a minor. Neither man currently faces any charges related to the alleged episode.
Charges against the 15-year-old boy were handled in juvenile court, and the disposition of the case was not made public.
Rice said last week he dropped the charges because he didn't have enough evidence to win convictions due to the Colemans lack of cooperation.
Melinda Coleman has countered that she and her daughter never stopped cooperating and were fully prepared to provide whatever assistance they could if the case were reopened.