The Kansas City Star reports that in an "unusual tactic," the Nodaway County prosecutor read then-14-year-old Daisy Coleman her Miranda rights before she answered questions about her rape in a deposition. This "tactic" is not just unusual, it's virtually unheard of, and likely one of intimidation. It's another disturbing detail in the Maryville rape case that captured the nation's attention last year, after it was reported that Coleman and her family were essentially run out of their town after she accused a classmate from a prominent local family of raping her.
According to the Star, Coleman and her mother were both Mirandized before sitting through separate depositions with Nodaway County prosecutor Robert Rice on July 26, 2012. This is practically unheard of. Cynthia Cordes, who worked with victims in the U.S. Attorney's Office, told the Star,
As a general practice, it is not appropriate to Mirandize someone who is a victim of an alleged crime. I would say that the last thing we would do is Mirandize a victim if we’re talking to them about the alleged crime.
But that's exactly what Rice did. According to newly-released documents from the depositions, Rice told Daisy Coleman, "There may be questions that may be of an incriminating nature. So I need to make sure that you are Mirandized and that you understand your Miranda warnings and that you’re agreeing to waive them in order to speak and answer questions today. You understand that you have a right to remain silent; is that correct?"
Coleman says she was sexually assaulted in 2012 by then 19-year-old Matthew Barnett at a party, and that he left her unconscious, barefoot, and freezing on her front porch in the middle of the night. Barnett was originally charged with sexual assault and child endangerment, but Rice dropped those charges shortly after the Colemans' July depositions. Only when the Star reported on the handling of the case last year did the state appoint a new prosecutor to reopen the case. Barnett was still not charged with sexual assault, and he ended up pleading guilty this January to a misdemeanor for child endangerment.
Rice refused to comment on Mirandizing the Colemans. Angie Blume of the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault told the Star,
Intimidation of victims creates an environment in which victims feel they are being held responsible for the crime rather than the person or persons who perpetrated the crime.
Daisy Coleman attempted suicide for the third time this January. Rice is running for re-election as Nodaway County prosecutor.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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