Mom: Family Cooperated in Rape Investigation

3 years 8 months 1 week ago October 15, 2013 Oct 15, 2013 Tuesday, October 15 2013 Tuesday, October 15, 2013 3:35:00 PM CDT in News
By: The Associated Press

MARYVILLE, Mo. (AP) - A woman who says her family was forced to move from a northwest Missouri town after her 14-year-old daughter was plied with alcohol and sexually assaulted nearly two years ago disputed authorities' claims that she and her daughter stopped cooperating with investigators.

Melinda Coleman said Tuesday that justice was denied when Nodaway County's prosecutor dropped felony charges against two 17-year-old Maryville High School students in March 2012, two months after she found her daughter passed out on the family's front porch in below-freezing temperatures.

Nodaway County prosecutor Robert Rice issued a statement saying there wasn't enough evidence to pursue the charges because the accusers had stopped cooperating and asserted their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. In an interview, Sheriff Darren White backed up Rice's statement.

The case has drawn new attention since The Kansas City Star published the results Sunday of a seven-month investigation into the allegations. The Star's story described a town where many appeared to be closing ranks around the accused and suggesting the girls were somehow responsible for the incident. In April, after the family had moved, the family's home in Maryville was damaged in a fire, though a cause has not been determined.

Robert Sundell, an attorney who represented the teen accused of assaulting Daisy Coleman, said in a written statement that while many may find his former client's behavior "reprehensible," the legal issue is whether a crime occurred. He said the investigation raised questions about whether the 14-year-old was "incapacitated during the encounter." He also said the charges were dropped after the accusers' stories changed during depositions.

Sundell said his former client would not talk to the media.

Coleman says her 14-year-old daughter was given alcohol in January 2012 and raped by a 17-year-old acquaintance. The girl's 13-year-old friend says she was forced to have sex with a 15-year-old at the same house, while another 17-year-old allegedly recorded the incident on a cellphone.

The daughter acknowledged she and the friend left her house to meet the boys but said they gave her alcohol and she doesn't remember much of what happened next. The boys said the sex was consensual.

The two 17-year-old boys were charged as adults, but Rice dropped felony counts against them several months later. A misdemeanor count against the teen accused of assaulting Daisy was dropped subsequently. The prosecutor cited a lack of evidence and the Colemans' refusal to cooperate. The 15-year-old was charged in juvenile court.

The Associated Press does not generally name victims of sexual assault but is naming Coleman because she and her mother have been granting public interviews about the case. The AP is not naming the boys because there is no longer an active criminal case against them.

Coleman, a veterinarian who moved her family back to Albany, about 40 miles east of Maryville, because of backlash from the community over the girls' accusations, said suggestions that she and her daughter were uncooperative are lies.

"How do you think we didn't want to cooperate?" Coleman asked. "We went to get a rape kit done. I wrote a statement, and my daughter gave a statement to the police."

Coleman said that no depositions were conducted before the felony charges were dropped. She said she was asked but refused to invoke the Fifth Amendment before a planned May 31, 2012, deposition.

Sundell said his former client's accusers did invoke the Fifth Amendment right at the May hearing.

Rice has declined to discuss the case beyond a news release sent by his office Tuesday that noted that in Missouri, dismissed cases are sealed and he was not at liberty to discuss them.

White, the sheriff, said he never understood the Colemans' reasoning and that authorities weren't considering charges against the 14-year-old girl.

"They stonewalled the case all by themselves," he said.

Now that the family is saying they will cooperate, he wasn't sure whether that would make a difference.

"They wouldn't cooperate and then they said they would cooperate. And then they wouldn't cooperate. And then they went back and forth," White said. "I'm guessing, and this is just speculation, but I'm guessing that the prosecutor would be a little gun shy to believe that they would be willing to cooperate at this time."

He said authorities have had dealings with the suspects before and prosecuted them. Online court records show that the teen accused of assaulting Daisy had been on probation for a DWI.

"It's not that he's afraid of these boys and their families or anything like that. It's just that he was left with no alternatives," White said.

The case has drawn comparisons to one in Steubenville, Ohio, where two 17-year-old high school football players were convicted of raping a West Virginia girl after an alcohol-fueled party in 2012. The case was furiously debated online and led to allegations of a cover-up to protect the city's celebrated football team.

Missouri expanded its rape, sodomy and sexual abuse laws, effective Aug. 28, to cover cases of sexual contact when a person is incapacitated or incapable of giving consent. Those crimes previously had required "forcible compulsion." State Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, who had supported that change, said Tuesday that it was prompted at least partly by the Steubenville case.

Prominent Missouri Republicans have called on Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat, to intervene. However, a spokeswoman for Koster's office said Tuesday that it had no authority under state law to reopen the investigation on its own.

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder called on Koster to ask that a grand jury be convened, and House Speaker Tim Jones said the attorney general should consider intervening. Jones disagreed with suggestions that Koster was prohibited from doing so.

 

Related Stories

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - As construction continues in the downtown area, workers are finding it difficult to be around. "It's making... More >>
1 hour ago June 27, 2017 Jun 27, 2017 Tuesday, June 27 2017 Tuesday, June 27, 2017 7:57:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA -The City of Columbia Public Works Department held an informal open house Tuesday, giving people a chance to ask... More >>
1 hour ago June 27, 2017 Jun 27, 2017 Tuesday, June 27 2017 Tuesday, June 27, 2017 7:38:00 PM CDT in News
BOONE COUNTY - The Boone County Sheriff’s Department is investigating four burglaries this month in the Elm Tree area. Homes... More >>
1 hour ago June 27, 2017 Jun 27, 2017 Tuesday, June 27 2017 Tuesday, June 27, 2017 7:13:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Th e Missouri Supreme Court says it's constitutional to commit sex offenders to secure confinement after... More >>
3 hours ago June 27, 2017 Jun 27, 2017 Tuesday, June 27 2017 Tuesday, June 27, 2017 5:23:00 PM CDT in News
BOONE COUNTY - Sheriff's detectives arrested a 20-year-old Jefferson City woman Tuesday in connection with a shooting that wounded two... More >>
4 hours ago June 27, 2017 Jun 27, 2017 Tuesday, June 27 2017 Tuesday, June 27, 2017 5:04:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri appellate judges are reinstating descriptions of initiative petitions against right to work laws that were... More >>
4 hours ago June 27, 2017 Jun 27, 2017 Tuesday, June 27 2017 Tuesday, June 27, 2017 4:50:02 PM CDT in News
MONETT (AP) — A substitute teacher in southwe st Missouri has been ch arged with having sexual contact with a... More >>
4 hours ago June 27, 2017 Jun 27, 2017 Tuesday, June 27 2017 Tuesday, June 27, 2017 4:30:41 PM CDT in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY – A proposed port in Jefferson City is one step closer to becoming a reality. The Callaway... More >>
4 hours ago June 27, 2017 Jun 27, 2017 Tuesday, June 27 2017 Tuesday, June 27, 2017 4:22:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - NAACP supporters rallied at the state Capitol to ask Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens not to sign the... More >>
5 hours ago June 27, 2017 Jun 27, 2017 Tuesday, June 27 2017 Tuesday, June 27, 2017 3:58:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The Missouri Foundation for Health has awarded $700,000 toward the planning, construction and programming of the planned agriculture... More >>
5 hours ago June 27, 2017 Jun 27, 2017 Tuesday, June 27 2017 Tuesday, June 27, 2017 3:30:00 PM CDT in News
VERSAILLES (AP) — The Missouri state trooper who had a man die while in his custody pleaded guilty Tuesday to... More >>
6 hours ago June 27, 2017 Jun 27, 2017 Tuesday, June 27 2017 Tuesday, June 27, 2017 2:41:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri senators won't reconvene until at least after the July 4 holiday to consider legislation on... More >>
6 hours ago June 27, 2017 Jun 27, 2017 Tuesday, June 27 2017 Tuesday, June 27, 2017 2:08:26 PM CDT in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY — A manhunt for a suspicious person call ended in an arrest just east of Kingdom City. ... More >>
7 hours ago June 27, 2017 Jun 27, 2017 Tuesday, June 27 2017 Tuesday, June 27, 2017 1:22:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA — Columbia Police officers arrested Joshua Michael McWilliams, 23, of Columbia in reference to Monday night's shots fired call.... More >>
8 hours ago June 27, 2017 Jun 27, 2017 Tuesday, June 27 2017 Tuesday, June 27, 2017 12:49:00 PM CDT in News
CAMDENTON — Since the start of 2017, the Camden County Sheriff's office reports more than $45,000 worth of roadway signs... More >>
11 hours ago June 27, 2017 Jun 27, 2017 Tuesday, June 27 2017 Tuesday, June 27, 2017 9:51:00 AM CDT in News
HOUSTON (AP) — Authorities are searching for a southern Missouri inmate who is accused of overpowering a guard and stealing... More >>
11 hours ago June 27, 2017 Jun 27, 2017 Tuesday, June 27 2017 Tuesday, June 27, 2017 9:25:05 AM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A judge is upholding a policy barring St. Louis Zoo visitors from entering the site with... More >>
12 hours ago June 27, 2017 Jun 27, 2017 Tuesday, June 27 2017 Tuesday, June 27, 2017 8:10:00 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services will offer free HIV testing during normal business... More >>
20 hours ago June 27, 2017 Jun 27, 2017 Tuesday, June 27 2017 Tuesday, June 27, 2017 1:00:00 AM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 71°
10pm 70°
11pm 68°
12am 68°
1am 67°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

7:00p
America's Got Talent
9:00p
World of Dance
10:00p
KOMU 8 News @ 10
8:00p
iZombie
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
America's Got Talent
9:00p
World of Dance
7:00p
The Flash
8:00p
iZombie
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld