crimesider

Maryville Alleged Rape Update: Sheriff calls Coleman family's assertion that they cooperated in Mo. sexual assault case "an absolute lie"

Daisy Coleman Daisy Coleman / CBS affiliate KCTV

Daisy Coleman
CBS affiliate KCTV

(CBS) MARYVILLE, Mo. - Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White, who presided over the investigation into the alleged Jan. 2012 alcohol-fueled sexual assault of 14-year-old Daisy Coleman and her 13-year-old friend in Maryville, Mo., says felony charges were dropped against the two 17-year-olds charged in the case because the victims refused to testify and cooperate.

"Mrs. Coleman likes to tell stories and it would be nice if she told an accurate story for once," White said in reference to Daisy's mother, Melinda Coleman, in a phone interview with CBS News' Crimesider on Wednesday.

Melinda Coleman has disputed that she refused to testify and cooperate with authorities investigating the case.

"I told them everything," she told CNN on Tuesday. "That's absolutely not true, and it still kind of shocks me that they're lying about it."

"How do you think we didn't want to cooperate?" Coleman asked in an interview with the Kansas City Star. "We went to get a rape kit done. I wrote a statement, and my daughter gave a statement to the police."

According to a report in the Kansas City Star, Melinda Coleman says she only invoked her Fifth Amendment right after the felony charges were dropped in the case.

White calls that "an absolute lie."

When asked whether there was sufficient evidence to prosecute the boys charged in the case, the sheriff explained to Crimesider that even though "the facts support themselves," not much can be done when the victims aren't willing to cooperate.

Matthew Barnett, then-17, was initially arrested and charged with sexual assault and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child after reportedly admitting to having sex with Daisy and to being aware that she had been drinking. He reportedly insisted the sex was consensual. But Missouri felony statutes define sex as non-consensual when the victim is incapacitated by alcohol.

A felony charge of sexual exploitation of a minor was also filed against then-17-year-old Jordan Zech who allegedly recorded Daisy's sexual encounter on an iPhone.

But charges against both were later dropped by Nodaway County Prosecutor Robert Rice. When Crimesider reached out to Rice, he issued a statement saying there was a lack of evidence and refusal to cooperate by key witnesses.

"If you have no victim, you have no crime," Sheriff White explained to Crimesider. "And the victims refused to be victims anymore."

Crimesider also reached out to an attorney for Barnett who issued a statement saying there was "substantial doubt" as to whether Daisy was incapacitated during the encounter.

White also took time to shoot down reports that Melinda Coleman lost her job following word of the case spreading throughout the small-knit town of 12,000 people. Melinda Coleman reportedly told the Kansas City Star that she was fired from her job at Maryville's Southpaws Veterinary Clinic two weeks after the incident without explanation.

"She was fired from her job before any of this ever happened," White told Crimesider.

Crimesider reached out to the veterinary clinic and Dr. Sally Hayse confirmed Coleman was fired Jan. 6, the Friday before the alleged sexual assault took place. She said the clinic refrained on going into details as to why Coleman was let go.

Daisy's story has recently garnered renewed attention after the report in the Kansas City Star which questioned the prosecutor's motives in dropping the case and delved intothe alleged harassment Daisy and her family endured as a repercussion.

The paper reported the Coleman family was harassed on social media, Daisy was suspended from her high school's cheerleading squad and the family's Maryville home burned down after they had relocated to Albany.

When asked about an investigation into the fire that burned the Coleman's home down, White said it was investigated by the State Fire Marshall's Office. He did confirm, however, that Coleman did not want to give authorities a statement on the fire.

According to the Kansas City Star, the cause of the fire remains undetermined.

In the interview with CNN Tuesday, Melinda Coleman claimed White had told her that other girls had come forward to accuse the same group of boys of similar conduct but later changed his story.

"That's not true," White said.

He said the Coleman family provided the sheriff's office with two or three names of other alleged victims.

"We did contact those girls and they said it wasn't true," White said.

The sheriff said the only way the case will be reopened is if the prosecutor decides to file new charges.

"...The only place where it could be determined [whether a conviction is possible in the case] is in the court of law, not in the court of public opinion," White said.

Complete coverage of the Maryville alleged rape case on Crimesider

  • Stephanie Slifer

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