KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A special prosecutor was appointed Monday to reinvestigate allegations by a 14-year-old girl who said she was sexually assaulted by an older classmate who plied her with alcohol in their rural Missouri town.
The case attracted international attention when the girl and her mother went public, saying the county prosecutor didn't do enough before dropping charges against the boys they said were involved. Local prosecutors maintain that the family stopped co-operating — which the family disputes — but asked for a special prosecutor to take over the case.
A Nodaway County judge chose Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker to take on the role, the local county court clerk confirmed. Baker will be able to launch her own investigation and work independently from the local prosecutor. Baker is no stranger to high-profile cases: Her prosecution of Roman Catholic Bishop Robert Finn, who was accused of failing to report suspected child abuse, resulted in the first criminal conviction against an American bishop charged in the clergy sex scandal.
"Politics, connections or any other reason you can think of will not play a role in our review of this case," Baker said at a news conference.
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.
Her daughter, Daisy, said another 17-year-old videotaped the attack with a cellphone, and that her 13-year-old friend who went with her that night was raped by a 15-year-old boy.
Daisy's alleged assailant was charged with felony sexual assault and the second 17-year-old was charged with sexual exploitation of a minor. Nodaway County prosecutor Robert Rice said last week that those charges were dropped because Daisy's family had stopped co-operating and that there wasn't enough evidence to convict the boys.
Melinda Coleman said she and her daughter never stop co-operating and were fully prepared to provide whatever assistance would be needed if the case were reopened.
Charges against the 15-year-old were handled in juvenile court and are not public record.
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 coverup to protect the city's celebrated football team.
The Associated Press does not generally name victims of sexual assault but is naming the Colemans because they have been granting public interviews about the case. The AP is not naming the accused boys because there are no active charges against them.
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