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Maryville Alleged Rape: Hundreds rally in support of Daisy Coleman, alleged victim in Mo. sexual assault case

Supporters of Justice for Daisy pass out flowers before a rally outside the Nodaway County Court House in Maryville, Mo., Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013. The rally was organized on the Internet on behalf of Daisy Coleman, a girl who says she was sexually assaulted nearly two years ago when she was 14. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner) Orlin Wagner

Supporters of Justice for Daisy pass out flowers before a rally outside the Nodaway County Court House in Maryville, Mo., Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013.
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
(CBS/AP) MARYVILLE, Mo. - A day after a Jackson County prosecutor was named to re-investigate a northwest Missouri teen sexual abuse case, a modest crowd of a few hundred people braved chilly conditions Tuesday night to show support for Daisy Coleman, a girl whose story has drawn worldwide attention.

The rally on Maryville's courthouse square was organized over the Internet by a women's rights activist from the Kansas City area who used social media to garner support for Daisy Coleman, who said she was 14 when a 17-year-old boy gave her alcohol and sexually assaulted her in January 2012.

More than 2,300 people indicated on the Facebook page for the "Justice for Daisy" rally that they were attending. But 10 minutes before the scheduled 6 p.m. start, there appeared to be as many media members and law enforcement officers as there were rally participants.

Courtney Cole, who organized the event over social networks and got a boost from the Internet hacker group Anonymous, said she wasn't bothered by the modest turnout and pointed to the dozens of reporters scattered around the gathering conducting interviews.

"Even a small turnout is OK," she said. "Just moving the case along makes it a success."

Cole and three other speakers stood at a podium on the northeast corner of the square and used a bullhorn to get their message out that sexual abuse of women is not acceptable. The bulk of their messages was drowned out by a Kansas City news helicopter that hovered overhead during most of the event, which Cole acknowledged when she asked participants to wave their daisies overhead.

Daisy Coleman
Daisy Coleman
CBS
A second podium set up on the southeast corner of the courthouse for a possible counter-rally to show support for the accused boys stood unused. The heavy law enforcement presence, including roughly two dozen Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers, was in place though the event remained tranquil.

Nodaway County commissioners decided last week to close the county's administration building and courthouse Tuesday because of the event. Sheriff Darren White said Tuesday after the rally that he would rather overprepare for an emotionally tinged gathering rather than be caught off-guard if trouble would have started.

Melinda Coleman, Daisy's mother, issued a statement Monday night praising Maryville, the school district and even coaches of the two people who had been accused in case for supporting her family.

Neither Coleman nor her daughter attended the rally.

Daisy's story generated new attention and an outpouring of responses on social media following a report in the Kansas City Star on Oct. 12 which questioned Nodaway County prosecutor Robert Rice's motives in dropping the felony charges against two 17-year-old boys charged in the case.

Matthew Barnett, one of the teens charged, was a football star and is the grandson of a once-prominent Nodaway County politician.

Rice has denied any political motivation in dropping the charges and maintains Daisy and her mother stopped cooperatingand that there was not enough evidence to move forward with the case. Daisy's mother, Melinda Coleman, told Crimesider on Friday that her family never stopped cooperating. She said she only invoked her Fifth Amendment right after the felony charges were dropped in the case and after Rice and a rape advocate talked her into doing so.

Rice last week asked for a special prosecutorto take a new look at the case, and Jean Peters Baker on Monday was given that assignment.

Baker said she was "honored" to receive the case, reports CBS affiliate KCTV.

"I know this case has raised a variety of concerns in northwest Missouri. So please know this: This case will be thoroughly reviewed. Our review of this case will be without fear and without favor," she said, according to the station.

Baker said her office was obtaining files from authorities in Maryville on Monday and that the review of the evidence in the case would begin as soon as all those documents were received.

Complete coverage of the Maryville alleged rape case on Crimesider

  • Stephanie Slifer

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