Nodaway County Prosecutor Robert Rice announced Wednesday that he wants to reopen the case involving the sexual assault of 14-year-old Daisy Coleman, who says she was raped by a 17-year-old acquaintance.
The Missouri case quickly made its way into the public eye earlier this week, when the Kansas City Star released a detailed report about the case. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder recently requested that the jury “take another look” at the sexual assault case, but Rice eventually dropped all charges.
The incident took place in January of 2012, when Daisy Coleman and her 13-year-old friend snuck out of the Coleman house in the middle of the night to meet up with a group of older boys.
According to KMOV, Daisy was given large amounts of alcohol and does not remember anything from the incident. She was allegedly raped by one of the boys, local high school football star Matthew Barnett. Daisy’s 13-year-old friend said she was forced to have sex with one of the 15-year-old boys, who was later charged in the juvenile system. One of the 17-year-old boys recorded the entire incident on his video camera.
Charges were filed against 17-year-old Barnett, who was said to have sexually assaulted Daisy. However, in March of 2012, Rice dropped all felony charges against Barnett due to a lack of evidence and the Colemans’ refusal to cooperate with investigators.
According to CBS affiliate KCTV, Rice defends his decision to drop the charges. However, Rice also believes that because Daisy Coleman recently appeared on CNN claiming she would testify, now is the right time for a special prosecutor to reopen the case.
“Until that time, the witnesses never told me that they were willing to cooperate and testify after they invoked their 5th Amendment right in a deposition under oath,” Rice told KCTV. “They understood that when they at that time invoked their 5th Amendment right, that by doing so was going to force the dismissal of the case, they understood that.”
The victim’s mother Melinda Coleman told the Kansas City Star that she only invoked her Fifth Amendment after the felony charges were dropped.
“That is an absolute lie,” said Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White, who backed up Rice’s claims against the Colemans.
According to Maryville City Manager Greg McDaniel, city officials support Rice’s decision to reopen the case and appoint a special prosecutor.
“Every day that goes by without further judicial action or explanation is detrimental to the lives and livelihood of the citizens of Maryville,” McDaniel read from a prepared statement, according to KCTV. “This was an unfortunate incident that cast a shadow over our community.”
CBS News reports that city officials hope that an independent investigation by a special prosecutor will ease the high emotions of those involved and decide if new charges should be filed.