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Was justice served in the Maryville rape case? Nearly two years ago on a cold January night, then 14-year-old Daisy Coleman snuck out her mother's home in the small Missouri town to party with some teenage boys. What happened next has been the subject of criminal charges, dueling stories and a flurry of national headlines. KCUR broke this story in July. Since then, we have offered comprehensive coverage.

Maryville Rape Decision Set for Thursday

Peggy Lowe

A highly-anticipated decision is expected Thursday on a controversial rape case in Maryville, Mo.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced Wednesday, two years to the day of the alleged assault, that she will announce the findings of her investigation in Maryville at 1:30 p.m.

Baker has not made any indication what her decision might be. She could refile charges against two boys that were dropped earlier, refuse to file any charges, or choose other legal claims.

Baker was appointed as the special prosecutor by Nodaway County Associate Circuit Judge Glen Dietrich in October after the story made international headlines.

As KCUR reported last July, Daisy Coleman, then 14, and her friend Paige Parkhurst, then 13, snuck out of the Coleman's house early on Jan. 8, 2012, after texting with Matthew Barnett, a then-17-year-old Maryville High School football player. The girls had been drinking, then drank more with Barnett and his friends at his family's home. Coleman was later dropped at her mother's doorstep, left without a coat or shoes in freezing temperatures. She was discovered by her mother hours later.

Parkhurst's assailant, a minor boy, made a plea bargain through the juvenile justice system and spent several months on probation.

Barnett and his friend, Jordan Zech, a then 17-year-old who allegedly videotaped Coleman and Barnett on an iPhone, were charged. Barnett admitted having sex with Coleman but said it was consensual. Three months after making the initial charges, Nodaway County prosecutor Robert Rice dropped the case, saying he didn't have enough evidence to proceed.

After publication of a newspaper story in October, the story went viral, triggering online outrage and a protest by so-called Internet "hactivist" Anonymous. That's when Rice asked the court to appoint a special prosecutor.  

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
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