Late Tuesday night, the Lieutenant Governor of Missouri, Peter Kinder, urged the state's Attorney General and Nodaway County Prosecutor Robert Rice to reopen the controversial Maryville rape case that case garnered much attention one after a Kansas City Star investigative article about a 14-year-old girl’s alleged rape and subsequent dropped charges went viral over the weekend. The article prompted hacktivist group Anonymous to wage war on the town.
Kinder tweeted out his statement:
"Since Sunday I have read with growing dismay the media accounts of the Daisy Coleman case in Nodaway County. I make no claim to knowledge of all the facts. Still, facts revealed in exhaustive media reports, including the 4,000-word piece in the Kansas City Star, raise all kinds of questions that it is now clear won’t be put to rest. These questions will fester and taint the reputation of our state for delivering impartial justice to all.
I am disappointed that the Attorney General would wash his hands of the matter through a brief statement by a spokesman. The appalling facts in the public record shock the conscience and cryout that responsible authorities must take another look. I call on Attorney General Koster and Prosecutor Rice to join me in asking that the Circuit Court convene a grand jury to review all the evidence, hear all witnesses, and issue a decision as to whether charges should ensue.
I hope that responsible officials will join me in this call for a grand jury to make the final call on whether criminal charges should or should not be filed."
Melinda Coleman, mother of alleged rape victim Daisy Coleman, told the Kansas City Star she found her daughter unconscious in the frost of their front lawn, wearing only a shirt and sweatpants in the freezing temperature. Her daughter told her she had been so intoxicated she couldn’t stand, and didn’t remember what had happened. Daisy’s 13-year-old friend, however, remembered: Both of them had been raped by their male classmates, and Daisy had been dumped on her front lawn. One classmate had taken a video of Daisy and her alleged rapist, Matthew Barnett, having sex on his phone.
Barnett was later arrested and charged with sexual assault, a felony, and he admitted that he knew she had been drinking, though he claimed the sex was consensual. His friend Jordan Zech was also charged with felony sexual exploitation of a minor for recording Daisy and Barnett having sex.
But two months later, the charges were mysteriously dropped. Barnett’s grandfather, Rex Barnett, happens to be a prominent politician in Missouri as a former longtime member of the Missouri House of Representatives. He also had ties with the Nodaway County prosecutor, Robert Rice, who dropped the charges.
Paige Parkhurst, now 15, described the events of the night of the alleged rape to Al Jazeera America:
"They just started handing her drink after drink after drink. And they had separated us as soon as we got there. And another boy that was there with me, had taken me into another room, and had sexually assaulted me, after me telling him no, pushing him away. And after he was done, he made me go back out into the living room with him, and we sat and waited until Matt was done with Daisy. And I had walked into Matt’s room, and she was incoherent. She couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk, and just was talking like a baby pretty much.
... I was intoxicated before we left the house. She [Daisy] was also, but they gave her even more when she got there. They drug [sic] her out of his bedroom window, drug [sic] her to the car, and then they were going to drop us off, but they were freaking out, trying to think of how they were going to drop us off without any of her brothers waking up. And they took her and carried her to the back corner of her house and left her there. "
She also said that authorities discouraged her from pressing charges: "We were cooperating with all of the big felony charges, but they had been really in a way harassing us, and they were constantly putting us down. They weren’t listening to us at all. They were really blaming us for it. They dropped all of the felony charges and then didn’t tell us about it. But then they wanted to pick up a misdemeanor, but our rape advocate told us not to go because it was going to be a very bad interview."
Parkhurst told Al Jazeera America that she was coming forward now because she now feels that she has support and people are listening to her and Coleman.
Metro was not able to reach Mississippi Attorney General Koster and Prosecutor Robert Rice for comment.