Family fights for justice after charges dropped in sexual assault case against Maryville, Mo., teens

MARYVILLE, Mo. - The mother of a 16-year-old girl who said a classmate sexually assaulted her daughter nearly two years ago is fighting to see dropped charges reinstated in a case that has now drawn national attention.

Melinda Coleman told 41 Action News on Monday that she believes charges against a 17-year-old Maryville football player were dropped for political reasons after the boy had sex with her 14-year-old daughter at an alcohol-fueled party in 2012.

Another boy was accused of taping the incident and when no video was found, charges against he – and a third boy involved with another girl – were also dropped.

The Kansas City Star reported that the girl's blood alcohol level came back at .13 the next day, well above the legal limit for an adult.

Two weeks after charging one of the boys with sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child (the girl, Daisy Coleman, was left laying outside on her lawn on a frigid January night to sleep off the effects of her alcohol), the charges were dropped.

Prosecutors claimed there was insufficient evidence to try the case, but Coleman believes the politically-connected family of the football player helped quash the charges.

For the Coleman family, this was only the first humiliation. Coleman lost her job in the aftermath amid indications that the scandal surrounding the case had become more than her employer cared to bear. The Coleman children became victims of bullying and cruel taunts at school, as many in the community rallied around the football players at the center of the case.

On social media, Daisy became a target for vicious attacks. Before the end of the academic year, Coleman pulled all her children from the Maryville schools and moved the family 40 miles east to Albany, Mo.

Thus far, the family's efforts to get the case reopened have been fruitless. A petition on Change.org urging Missouri attorney general Chris Koster has garnered more than 1,200 signatures. The AG's office was closed on Monday for the Columbus Day holiday and staff did not return calls from 41 Action News.

On Tuesday afternoon, Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder tweeted out a statement regarding the investigation.

In the statement, Kinder calls on the state's attorney general and Nodaway County prosecutor to revisit the case.

"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," Kinder said in the statement.

He worries the case could taint the reputation of the State of Missouri.

With the release of the Star's investigation, national media outlets including CNN took notice of the Coleman's tale – which rang eerily familiar to those who remembered a similar incident involving underage girls, football players and social media at a high school in Steubenville, Ohio.

Also taking notice is the online activist group Anonymous which warned the city of Maryville in an online message now spreading widely to "expect us," before announcing a protest in the town, planned for October 22.

For Daisy, now 16 and taking part in something of a media tour beside her mother, the renewed attention is something of a cold comfort.

"When we moved to Maryville it felt like I got a second chance at my childhood," Daisy told 41 Action News. "And it just got blown away because of that."

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