A judge appointed a special prosecutor on Monday to investigate the alleged rape of a 14-year-old Missouri girl at a party that was recorded on a cell phone.
The case – in which a popular former high school football player in Maryville, Mo., is accused of sexually assaulting the girl in 2012 and then dumping her on her family's front porch in sub-freezing temperatures – has attracted international attention after first being reported by the Kansas City Star and then publicized by the computer hacking group Anonymous.
According to the Star, felony and misdemeanor charges against the alleged attacker, the grandson of a longtime local political figure, and another youth who allegedly filmed the assault were filed, but later dropped.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker was named to investigate the case on Monday morning, NBC station KSHB in Kansas City reported.
At a brief news conference on Monday afternoon, Baker said she has already asked a special unit to be involved in the investigation of the sexual assault claims in the small northwest Missouri town.
“I know this case has raised a variety of concerns. So please know this: This case will be thoroughly reviewed. Our review will be without fear and without fail," Baker said. "I can also assure you that politics, connections will not play a role in our review in this case."
Baker asked the throng of reporters assembled for patience and said she would not be commenting further on the case until the review was completed.
Nodaway County Prosecutor Bob Rice initially filed felony charges against the suspected rapist and the boy who allegedly recorded it -- both 17 at the time of alleged sexual assault -- but later dropped them, saying the girl, her mother and other witnesses were not cooperating.
However, the girl, Daisy Coleman, and her mother, Melinda Coleman, have denied the prosecutor’s assertions that they weren't cooperative and pressed for the case to be reopened.
Last week, Daisy Coleman said she was “more than excited” when Rice said he’d ask a judge to appoint a special prosecutor.
Melinda Coleman said her family was forced to leave Mayville after harassment over the allegations.
The case has drawn comparisons to one in Steubenville, Ohio, where two 17-year-old high school football players were convicted of raping a West Virginia girl after an alcohol-fueled party in 2012. The case was furiously debated online and led to allegations of a cover-up to protect the city's celebrated football team.
The Associated Press and Alastair Jamieson of NBC News contributed to this report.
First published October 21 2013, 3:11 PM