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Mo.'s Lt. Gov. Wants Maryville Rape Case Reopened

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on October 16, 2013 12:31 PM

After a firestorm of public outrage, the alleged Maryville rape case in Missouri has captured the attention of a leading state politician.

Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder wants a grand jury to investigate the case of Daisy Coleman, who claims she was raped at age 14 by a popular 17-year-old football player while others filmed them with an iPhone.

Her alleged attacker was never tried. But will Kinder's call to action make a difference?

Dropped Charges, Threats, and Arson

Coleman claimed she was raped while she was unconscious after drinking a large glass of a clear white liquid. If true, the encounter could potentially constitute rape by intoxication. She was left unconscious at her front door in April 2012; the temperature outside was a brutal 22 degrees, reports St. Louis' KSDK-TV.

In Missouri, statutory rape only applies when a victim is under 14 years old or the perpetrator is over 21. As a result, Matthew Barnett was charged with sexual assault and child endangerment (for leaving her in the cold).

But prosecutors ultimately dropped the charges against Barnett, the grandson of a former state representative, despite video evidence showing the sexual encounter.

Drawing troubling parallels to the Steubenville rape case in Ohio, Coleman and her family reportedly faced threats after the incident. Daisy was harassed on social media, attempted suicide twice, and her mother was fired from her job after her boss expressed concerns about lawsuits, reports KSDK-TV.

When the Colemans moved from Maryville, their home was then burned to the ground.

Lt. Governor's Call to Action

The Colemans' story garnered national media attention after The Kansas City Star ran an in-depth article on the extraordinary backlash the family endured and the lack of cooperation from prosecutors.

In fact, Lt. Gov. Kinder's statement -- calling on Attorney General Chris Koster and Nodaway County Prosecutor Bob Rice to take another look at the case -- explicitly mentions The Kansas City Star piece.

But Kinder's call to action can only do so much. Ultimately, it's up to prosecutors whether or not to use a grand jury to decide on charges in the case.

Regardless of the outcome, the unrelenting harassment and the alleged rapist's slap on the wrist harkens us back to not only Steubenville, but also Rehtaeh Parsons and Audrie Pott, two teen girls in Nova Scotia and California who killed themselves after they were raped by peers and then harassed for being victims.

Will the prosecutors follow Steubenville's footsteps and cave to mounting public and political pressure? We'll just have to wait and see.

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