State Rep. says Maryville sexual assault case "blown out of proportion"
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State Rep. says Maryville sexual assault case "blown out of proportion"

Date: October 15, 2013
By: Matt Kalish
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Spokespersons for Gov. Jay Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster said Tuesday that neither would comment on the controversial Maryville sexual assault case that has drawn national attention to the state.

Daisy Coleman appeared on CNN Monday evening with her mother to talk about her 2012 alleged sexual assault.

According to the Kansas City Star, Coleman, who was 14 at the time, was sexually assaulted by then 17-year-old high school senior Matthew Barnett in the early morning of January 8, 2012. The story from the Star attributed the accusation to court filings and documents from the case.

Those documents have been sealed in accordance with state law and were not available for independent review. The article claims Coleman's mother, Melinda, allowed the Star access to the documents for the original story.

Charges against Bennett were later dropped by the Nodaway County Prosecutor Bob Rice for insufficient evidence, according to a release from Rice's office. Rice also dropped the charges against two other boys involved.

The decision to drop the charges against Barnett has drawn outcry from across the country. The online activist group Anonymous has come out in support of Coleman.

However, Koster's spokeswoman Nanci Gonder said in an email the attorney general cannot intervene currently.

"The attorney general is only authorized to prosecute criminal cases in Missouri when a local county prosecutor either requests our assistance or disqualifies himself or herself from a case and then only after special appointment by a circuit judge." said Gonder.

Rice has been accused of dropping the charges against Barnett due to political pressure. Matthew Barnett is the grandson of former state Rep. Rex Barnett, R-Maryville.

In a press release, Rice struck back at the accusation.

"The personal attacks made against me are malicious, wrong and never happened," said Rice. "The article recently published in the Kansas City Star did not include all the facts as to what transpired in a 2012 criminal case."

Rep. Mike Thomson, R-Maryville, who represents Rex Barnett's old district, said the case is being blown out of proportion.

"It's making it sound like we as a community are not a good place to live," said Thomson. "That is the farthest thing from the truth."

Thomson said he didn't know much about the details of the case other than it paints his town in an unfair light.

"I have read some of the articles that are out there and they say, 'how do you sleep?' Well, I sleep fine," Thomson said. "I guess I'm going to be a little closed on this matter. I don't want it to spread, I want it to die." 

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