Something about Maryville: The rape scandal that shames America - Americas - World - The Independent

Something about Maryville: The rape scandal that shames America

Why were sex assault allegations against footballer players dropped?

Maryville in Missouri is a place “where roots run deep,” according to the slogan that runs in wavy script across the city’s official insignia. With a population of 12,000 people, it is a small, quiet place, tucked away in rural Nodaway County.

But this week, it has become the focus of international attention, with the hacktivist group Anonymous demanding an investigation into the way local officials handled a 2012 rape case that is being compared to the now-infamous incident in Steubenville, Ohio, where a pair of high school football players were convicted earlier this year of raping a teenage girl at a party.

The touchpaper was lit at the weekend, when a detailed account of the case involving two teenage girls and two football players from the local high school was published by the Kansas City Star.

Accused of sexually abusing the girls, the two athletes, one of whom came from a politically connected family, were charged soon after the incident in the early hours of 8 January 2012. A 15-year-old boy was also charged in juvenile court. But in March, the local prosecutor decided against pursuing the case against the football players, something that has now led to calls by state officials for a re-examination of the evidence.

The story begins on the evening of 7 January last year, a Saturday. According to The Star, Daisy Coleman, then 14, and a 13-year-old friend were having a sleepover at the former’s house.

In between talking and watching TV, they were sipping from a stash of alcohol hidden in Daisy’s closet.

The 14-year-old had recently moved to Maryville with her mother, Melinda, and her siblings from nearby Albany. Ms Coleman had come seeking a new start for her family after the untimely death of her husband, Michael,  who was killed when his truck was thrown off course by black ice and fell down a ravine.

By January, the family was settling in. At school, Daisy, whose identity was disclosed to local media by Ms Coleman, and who has since appeared on television to speak about the case, had attracted the interest of a 17-year-old football player. That Saturday, as she hung out with her friend, she was texting the footballer, who, accompanied by another boy, eventually came to meet them at around 1am.

According to the published account, Daisy and her friend slipped out of a bedroom window and were driven by the boys to the footballer’s family home three miles away. At the other end, the teenagers met some other friends in the basement, including the 15 year-old boy who was later charged in the case.  Daisy was given a glass of alcohol, and then urged to drink a second glass.  Her 13-year-old friend, while she is reported to have consumed alcohol earlier in the night, denied drinking more after arriving at the footballer’s home.  At some point, she went into a room with the 15-year-old boy who, according to a police interview referenced by The Star, had sex with her despite her saying no and refusing his demand several times.

The Nodaway County Courthouse in Maryville (Alamy) The Nodaway County Courthouse in Maryville (Alamy)

 

The 17-year-old, meanwhile, is alleged to have had sex with Daisy who, according to her friend’s account, was crying as she was later carried back to the car. Authorities learnt that the alleged rape was filmed on an iPhone by the second football player, though the video, they say, was not found.

The girls were eventually driven home, with the 13-year-old managing to get back into bed. But Daisy was left out in the cold in 30 degree temperatures, wearing nothing more than a T-shirt and sweatpants.

She was discovered in the morning by her mother, who, when she brought her indoors and undressed her for a bath, noticed signs of assault on her body.

“Immediately,” she told The Star, “I knew what had happened.”

A felony charge of sexual assault and one of endangering the welfare of a child soon followed against the 17-year-old football player. His fellow athlete, who had allegedly filmed the encounter, also faced a felony charge of sexual exploitation of a minor.

But in March 2012, the charges against the two footballers were  suddenly dropped, with Maryville prosecutor Robert Rice citing a lack of evidence.

“As a minister of justice, I have to dismiss the charge when there’s not the evidence there to pursue a criminal case and regardless of what social media or other outlets want to take with that, I will not participate in a public lynching of anybody,” he told a local radio station in July.

Mr Rice could not be reached for further comment. Maryville’s Mayor, Jim Fall, did not return a message seeking comment on the case. But speculation about the outcome has turned to political connections – denied by Mr Rice – between the prosecutor and the 17-year-old footballer’s family.

Now, with Anonymous threatening to take action against the small town if an investigation is not undertaken into the way the allegations were handled, Missouri’s Lieutenant Governor, Peter Kinder, and the speaker of the state legislature, Tim Jones, have called for another look at the case.

Meanwhile, with locals closing ranks around them, and Daisy facing abuse on social media, Ms Coleman and her family have moved out of the Maryville.

Their house, which had been put up for sale after their move, was burnt down in an unexplained fire in April.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Top conservatoire offers ‘groundbreaking’ arts degree

Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Consultant - Soho - IT, Pharma, Public Sector

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000 first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week