KANSAS CITY, MO. - A Missouri judge appointed a special prosecutor on Monday to take over the investigation of an alleged sexual assault in the town of Maryville, a case that attracted national attention after it was publicized by the computer hacking group Anonymous with the hashtag #justice4Daisy on Twitter..
Jean Peters Baker, prosecutor in Missouri’s second-most populous county in the Kansas City area, was named to investigate the case, which involved a former high school football player accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl at a party in 2012, and a second teen accused of recording the incident on a cellphone.
Nodaway County Prosecutor Bob Rice had filed felony charges against the two boys, who were both 17 at the time, but later dropped them, citing a lack of cooperation from the girl, her mother and other witnesses.
The girl, Daisy Coleman, and her mother Melinda Coleman, have denied being uncooperative with prosecutors and in several interviews have pressed for the case to be reopened.
She published a first-person account of her alleged attack on xoJane.com
The case shows the power of the Internet, with the computer hacker group Anonymous having taken up the cause to put pressure on authorities to bring charges after it mounted a similar campaign regarding another rape case that focused attention on the town of Steubenville, Ohio.
The teen accused of assaulting Daisy Coleman is from a prominent Maryville family and Melinda Coleman told the Kansas City Star that many people in the city turned against her daughter and family after they pursued the case.
Rice said on Oct. 16 he would ask for a special prosecutor to conduct an independent review to determine if charges should be refiled after four witnesses said in a television interview they were willing to testify in the case.
Associate Circuit Court Judge Glen Dietrich appointed Baker as the special prosecutor, according to a clerk with the Nodaway County Circuit Court where Maryville is located.
A months-long investigation of the case published on Oct. 13 in the Kansas City Star focused attention on Maryville. The case has been compared to the 2012 rape of a 16-year-old girl by high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio.
Melinda Coleman told the newspaper she and her family moved from Maryville, about 90 miles north of Kansas City, after they endured harassment.
Anonymous plans a rally Tuesday in Maryville to support Coleman.
Records were sealed when the cases were dropped, but the Kansas City Star said prosecutors initially filed sexual assault charges against a grandson of a former four-term Republican state representative, and felony sexual exploitation of a minor charges against the second teen for allegedly recording the incident.
Rice is a Republican, while Judge Dietrich and Baker are Democrats.
Daisy Coleman told prosecutors she had been drinking earlier in the night and remembered being given alcohol at the party and nothing after that. The teen accused of assaulting her admitted having sex with her, but said it was consensual, according to the Kansas City Star.