The Maryville rape case has a new prosecutor: Jackson County's Jean Peters Baker.
Baker took the reins from Nodaway County's Robert Rice, who last week asked that a judge appoint a special prosecutor to re-investigate the circumstances that allowed two high school athletes to walk free after being charged with raping fourteen-year-old Daisy Coleman and thirteen-year-old Paige Parkhurst during a drunken party in 2012. A third boy who videotaped the alleged rape also had his charges dropped.
Rice told reporters last week the victims stopped cooperating with the police investigation and they were the main cause for the case's disintegration. The victims and their families maintain that they stopped cooperating only after the felony charges were mysteriously dropped.
Rice came under heavy scrutiny last week after a Kansas City Star article implied that he had, at best, mishandled communication between the prosecutor's office and the victims and their families.
The Star's piece focused attention on one of the suspects, seventeen-year-old Matthew Barnett, who is the grandson of a locally prominent Republican politician. Though no actual evidence exists to link the dropped charges with Barnett's family connections, a week's worth of international media coverage has amplified allegations of a cover up.
Here's CNN's take from last week:
Rice has denied all allegations of corruption:
"It's absolute crap," he said at last week's press conference. "My name was dragged through the mud in that article, and I don't appreciate it.... One person can throw out a couple of baseless rumors that makes everybody think that I'm a crook. And I'll tell you what, it makes me mad. It's not true, it never was true."
The new prosecutor, Baker, is tasked with sorting through the case's evidence and deciding whether it should be reopened, creating the possibility the dropped charges could be refiled. According to her bio, Baker was awarded the Victim Advocate of the Year in 2005 by former prosecutor Michael Sanders for championing the rights of victims.
Daily RFT will continue to cover this developing story. For more background on the case, see our previous coverage.
Continue for the full video of Rice's press conference
Here's the full video of Rice's press conference, when he announced that a special prosecutor would be selected to look into the Maryville rape case.