The rape case in Maryville, MO is making national headlines this week, now that a Kansas City Star article has exposed the details surrounding the incident. Fourteen-year-old Daisy Coleman says she was raped by a former member of the high school football team, but despite the evidence linking him to the assault, the criminal charges were dropped last year. The hacktivist group Anonymous has launched a campaign demanding further investigation.
On Tuesday, Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder (R) released a statement urging the attorney general to re-open the case, and expressing disappointment that the charges were dropped in the first place.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster (D) has indicated that he won’t intervene in the case, despite the current national attention it’s garnering. A statement from his spokesperson noted that Koster can’t step in because he isn’t authorized to “review a prosecutor’s discretionary decisions in particular cases.”
“I am disappointed that the Attorney General would wash his hands of the matter through a brief statement by a spokesman,” Kinder said on Tuesday. “The appalling facts in the public record shock the conscience and cry out that responsible authorities must take another look.” The statement goes on to urge Koster and the county prosecutor who dropped the charges, Robert Rice, to convene a grand jury to review all the evidence.
Missouri House Speaker Timothy Jones (R) is also asking Koster to investigate further. “While our attorney general has already stated he has no authority to intervene in this matter, I firmly believe he is empowered to do so under state statute 27.060,” the lawmaker said in a statement released Tuesday. “I am calling on him to utilize his authority in this matter so we can be confident that justice is served.”
The Steubenville rape case, which has drawn multiple comparisons to the incidents in Maryville, led to a grand jury investigation that’s still ongoing. Two high schoolers were found guilty of rape in March, but the jury has continued to deliberate to determine if any adults in the Ohio town helped cover up the crime. Just last week, the grand jury made its first arrest, jailing a Steubenville school official who’s charged with tampering evidence and obstructing justice.
Fox News reports that Missouri recently expanded its rape, sodomy and sexual abuse laws to cover “cases of sexual contact when a person is incapacitated or incapable of giving consent.” That would include Daisy’s alleged assault. The football player in question says the sex was consensual, but Daisy says that she was given several cups of alcohol until she was incapacitated and unable to consent.
Before that change, state residents could only be charged with those crimes if there was evidence of “forcible compulsion,” which essentially narrows the definition of rape. This week, state Rep. Jay Barnes (R) explained that update to the criminal code “was prompted at least partly by the Steubenville case.”