Lawmakers Call for Maryville Grand Jury, as Second Victim Comes Foward

With national attention focused on the small town of Maryville, Missouri, and the alleged unpunished rape of two underage girls, the pressure on lawmakers to do something or anything has intensified.

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With national attention focused on the small town of Maryville, Missouri, and the alleged unpunished rape of two underage girls, the pressure on lawmakers to do something or anything has intensified. Late on Tuesday, Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder called for a grand jury investigation into the Maryville case, in which the charges were dropped against the two suspects. "I call on Attorney General [Chris] Koster and Prosecutor Rice to join me in asking that the Circuit Court convene a grand jury to review all the evidence, hear all witnesses, and issue a decision as to whether charges should ensue," Kinder said in a statement.

State House Speaker Tim Jones, echoed that sentiment. He firmly put the pressure on Koster to investigate the case. Jones said:

While our attorney general has already stated he has no authority to intervene in this matter, I firmly believe he is empowered to do so under state statute 27.060. I am calling on him to utilize his authority to intervene in this matter so that we can be confident that justice is served.

In addition to the legal pressure, the second alleged victim has also come forward to support Daisy Coleman's story, saying that officials "weren't listening to us at all. They were really blaming us for it [the rape]." Like Coleman, Paige Parkhurst has given up her anonymity and spoken to the media for the first time, appearing on Al Jazeera America to talk about what happened to her and Coleman on January 7, 2012. (Parkhurst was 13 and Coleman 14 when the incidents in question occurred.)

And another boy that was there with me, had taken me into another room, and had sexually assaulted me, after me telling him no, pushing him away. And after he was done, he made me go back out into the living room with him, and we sat and waited until Matt was done with Daisy. And I had walked into Matt’s room, and she was incoherent. She couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk, and just was talking like a baby pretty much.

Under Missouri law, sex cannot be consensual if the victim is incapacitated by alcohol. And talking like a baby and not being able to walk sounds a lot like like incapacitation. Parkhurst's account makes it even harder to explain why the charges were eventually dropped against Matthew Barnett, a boy from a well-connected Missouri family. Since a story in the Kansas City Star made Coleman's story national news, public officials have come forward to claim that the families did not want to cooperate and there wasn't enough evidence to pursue the charges. Last night, Parkhurst charged that the officials in the case did not act in their best interest:

We were cooperating with all of the big felony charges, but they had been really in a way harassing us, and they were constantly putting us down. They weren’t listening to us at all. They were really blaming us for it. They dropped all of the felony charges and then didn’t tell us about it. 

That's different than what prosecutor Robert Rice, the man overseeing the case, had said. Rice cited a lack of evidence — even after the boys who alleged assaulted Parkhurst and Coleman admitted to having sex with the girls — and dropped the charges. "They were doing what they wanted to do, and there weren’t any consequences. And it’s reprehensible. But is it criminal? No," Rice said.

Add in dueling accounts between Sheriff Darren White who says that the Coleman family did not want to press charges, and the Coleman family who says that they would like the case re-opened, and you have the making of a contentious and very public fight. The pressure from lawmakers like Kinder and Jones should eventually lead to a more thorough investigation. "The appalling facts in the public record shock the conscience and cry out that responsible authorities must take another look," Kinder said in his statement.

The responsibility now falls on the people who have the power to investigate the case, which is still Koster, the Attorney General, and Rice. Koster, for now, is deferring to the local prosecutor. "Nanci Gonder, a spokeswoman for Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, said state law grants elected county prosecutors sole discretion about whether to bring charges. "The attorney general gets involved in criminal cases only if a prosecutor requests help or steps away from a case." Rice hasn't done either of those things yet, but if growing more likely that he will have to do something soon.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.