The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

October 18, 2013

Teen sex assault case to be reopened

MARYVILLE, Mo. — A 14-year-old girl who says she was raped by an older boy from her Missouri high school could get another chance to bring the case to court when a special prosecutor reviews the allegations.

Nodaway County prosecutor Robert Rice, who faced intense criticism over his handling of the case, has asked that a special prosecutor be appointed to decide if new charges should be filed.

The girl’s mother, Melinda Coleman, claims justice was denied when Rice dropped felony charges in March 2012, two months after she says her daughter was plied with alcohol, raped, then dumped on the family’s front porch in sub-freezing temperatures. She said her daughter’s 13-year-old friend was raped by another boy the same evening.

Rice insists the investigation collapsed after the Colemans became uncooperative with investigators. Coleman says she and her daughter did cooperate and that investigators didn’t do enough to push the case forward and were forced to move from the small northwest Missouri town of Maryville after her family was harassed over the allegations.

The Associated Press does not generally name victims of sexual assault but is naming Coleman and her daughter because they have been granting public interviews about the case. The AP is not naming the accused boys because there are no active charges against them.

A county judge is expected to appoint the special prosecutor, though the Nodaway County District Court clerk’s office said it had not received Rice’s request as of Thursday morning. The judge is out of the town until Monday and couldn’t be reached for comment, according to the courthouse.

In Missouri, special prosecutors have been appointed when county prosecutors seek assistance for complicated cases or ones that involve a conflict of interest. Attorney General Chris Koster said in a statement Thursday that his office was ready to assist the county and trusted the judge would “make the decision in the best interests of the families.”

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