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Special Prosecutor Appointed for Maryville Rape Case

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on October 31, 2013 3:56 PM

A Missouri judge appointed a special prosecutor on Monday to take over the investigation of the alleged rape of Daisy Coleman in the town of Maryville, a case that attracted national attention after it was publicized by The Kansas City Star and computer hacking group Anonymous.

For many who have followed the case closely, this latest move has been a long time coming.

Dropped Charges and Victimizing the Victim

The case revolves around Daisy Coleman, who claims she was raped at age 14 by Matthew Barnett, a popular 17-year-old football player, while others filmed them with an iPhone, reports St. Louis' KSDK-TV.

Despite the video evidence of the sexual encounter, Nodaway County Prosecutor Bob Rice ultimately dropped the sexual assault charges against Barnett, the grandson of a former state representative. Rice cited a lack of cooperation from the girl, her mother and other witnesses.

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.

The harassment garnered national media attention after the Colemans moved from Maryville, when their new home was burned to the ground.

Lt. Governor's Call to Action

The Kansas City Star ran an in-depth article on the extraordinary backlash the family endured and the lack of cooperation from prosecutors.

The story, which drew national attention to the case, prompted Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder to issue a public statement earlier this month urging Attorney General Chris Koster and Nodaway County Prosecutor Bob Rice to reopen the case and summon a grand jury.

Now, Associate Circuit Court Judge Glen Dietrich has appointed Jean Peters Baker as the 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, reports Reuters.

The Colemans' and witnesses' public statements fly in the face of Rice's initial reasons for dropping the charges, so insertion of Baker into the mix may signal a critical turning point in the case -- a case that sends us reeling back to Steubenville, Rehtaeh Parsons, Audrie Pott, and other victims who were raped by peers and then harassed for being victims.

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