The mother of Daisy Coleman, a Missouri teen who says she was raped by a 17-year-old classmate at the age of 14 in Jan. 2012, told CBS News’ Crimesider Thursday that she is disappointed that a special prosecutor assigned to reexamine her daughter’s case only found enough evidence to charge the accused rapist with misdemeanor child endangerment.
“I think she had a really tough task and I think she did the very best she could do with it,” Melinda Coleman said of Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker in a telephone interview Thursday.
“Considering all the evidence that had been lost, destroyed, tampered with or returned… There wasn’t a lot she could do,” Coleman said.
Matthew Barnett, now 19, the man accused in the case, was charged Thursday with misdemeanor child endangerment. He is scheduled to be arraigned later Thursday.
Special prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has been re-examining Daisy’s allegations that Barnett raped her at a January 2012 alcohol-fueled house party, when he was a Maryville High School senior and she was a freshman. Barnett says the sex was consensual.
Nodaway County prosecuting attorney Robert Rice previously dismissed felony charges against Barnett over what he said was a lack of evidence and the Colemans refusal to cooperate.
The case drew national attention following an Oct. 12 report in the Kansas City Star which questioned Rice’s motives in dropping the case and delved into the alleged harassment endured by Daisy and her family.
On Oct. 16, Rice asked for a special prosecutor to take a new look at the case, and Baker was given that assignment.
Melinda Coleman has disputed Rice’s assertions that her and Daisy refused to cooperate in the investigation. She told Crimesider in October that 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.
Melinda Coleman has said she believes the charges were dropped for “political” reasons.
Barnett is the grandson of a once-prominent local politician.
Coleman said her daughter Daisy had not been informed of the news of the misdemeanor charge and was still hospitalized following a suicide attempt earlier in the week stemming from alleged online harassment.
“She’s doing OK,” Coleman said when asked her daughter’s status.