Family alleges retaliation from town in Missouri rape case
(CNN) — It was supposed to be the beginning of a new life. Melinda Coleman and her four children moved to the small town of Maryville, Missouri, to start fresh after her husbandand the children’s father died in a car accident.
But their move to Maryville turned into a nightmare early on January 8, 2012.
Coleman’s daughter Daisy, then 14 and a high school freshman, was hosting a sleepover with a girlfriend at the Colemans’ home. They were drinking alcohol, according to a report from the Nodaway County Sheriff’s Office.
Daisy had been texting with a football player, a senior, who was then 17. They decided to meet up.
“We snuck into his house through his basement window, and I went to go sit on the couch, and he gave me a big glass of a clear liquid. And that’s all I remember,” the teenager said Monday on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.”
The next morning, Daisy was found outside her front door with no shoes, socks or coat despite the below-freezing temperatures. Her mother found her.
“There was frost on the ground, and it was about 22 degrees. So we initially got her inside the house, and tried to warm her up and at that point, I couldn’t figure out what had happened,” said Coleman, who spoke alongside her daughter.
“It wasn’t until I undressed her to put her in a warm tub that I realized that maybe she had been sexually assaulted. So I asked her if she was hurting, and she said yes, and started to cry,” she said.
CNN does not typically identify possible victims of sexual assault, but Daisy and her mother chose to go public.
The football player was arrested and charged with sexual assault. His friend was also charged with recording at least a part of the incident on an iPhone.
About two months after the alleged attack, the charges were dropped.
On Monday, CNN stopped by the football player’s home and spoke with his parents. They declined to comment and said they would have their lawyer get in touch.
Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White told CNN that his office and the prosecuting attorney were ready to prosecute. They did not move forward because the victim and her family refused to cooperate, he said.
“The only people’s stories that have been inconsistent throughout this whole thing are the Colemans — are the victims in this case — and I don’t know why that is,” White said.
Coleman denied that claim.
CNN was not able to reach the office of Robert Rice, the Nodaway County prosecutor, on Monday, which was the Columbus Day holiday.
According to the The Kansas City Star, which reported the story over the weekend, Rice told the newspaper the charges were dropped for lack of evidence.
“There wasn’t any prosecuting attorney that could take that case to trial,” he said. “It had to be dismissed. And it was.”
The story is picking up steam on social media.
A Facebook page called “Justice for Daisy” is calling for a protest at the Nodaway County courthouse next week.
Anonymous also appears to be involved. The loosely organized hacker group released a statement calling for an investigation into the handling of the case.
It made similar calls around a separate teenage rape case in Steubenville, Ohio, recently.
Two teenage boys were convicted in that case, which gained worldwide attention because of — and through — the use of social media.
In the weeks that followed Daisy’s alleged assault, Coleman said threats were made against her children. She said she was fired from her job at avet clinic.
According to Coleman and her daughter, the backlash from many residents in the town was relentless.
“There was really a lot of cyberbullying,” Daisy said. “And I really, at first I didn’t really, it didn’t affect me as much, but whenever you hear it so often that you’re all these different things then you start to believe it, and I really did start to hate myself.”
So the family picked up and moved again — away from the small all-American town that was supposed to give them a new lease on life.
By Dana Ford
CNN’s Sara Weisfeldt and Ana Cabrera contributed to this report.
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