MARYVILLE, Mo. - A crowd of several hundred shivering and daisy-clad supporters of a teen girl at the center of a controversial sexual assault case filled the town square here Tuesday to draw attention to a so-called "rape culture" nationally.
Women's rights advocates from across the region took turns at the podium praising 16-year old Daisy Coleman's courage in coming forward to discuss the night she when she claims to have been raped by a popular older teen here in 2012.
The speakers also looked to build on the national attention given to Daisy's case to remind an audience in the square and watching on television at home that a culture of date-rape and "blurred lines" around consent is a creeping danger not just for teenagers.
Maryville officials had been prepared for a far-larger showing than the 300 or so people who attended tonight's rally; shutting down most of downtown for the entire day and bringing in extra sheriffs deputies from surrounding counties to work crowd control.
The event began as a planned protest- organized locally but fueled online by the hacker collective "anonymous." But the selection of Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker as special prosecutor-- a win for the protestors seeking justice-- also took the wind out of the protest's sales
An unscientific sampling of attendees indicated the vast majority came from Nodaway county with few traveling further than neighboring Iowa.
Shane Steely, a student at NW Missouri State University explained why he felt his two hours in the cold was worth the effort.
"Whenever I hear the statements on my campus and also from people in general that a 14 year old girl deserved to be raped, that is a problem of our culture that needs to be fixed as soon as possible," he said.