Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and House Speaker Tim Jones issued separate statements Tuesday evening condemning the suspended investigation of 16-year-old Daisy Coleman's 2012 rape in Maryville, Mo.
In Kinder's statement, issued three days after the Kansas City Star's revealing story about Coleman's case, the longtime Republican state politician asked Attorney General Chris Koster and Nodaway County prosecutor Robert Rice to join him in calling a grand jury "to make the final call on whether criminal charges should or should not be filed."
Rice is a key player in Coleman's case, identified by the Star as responsible for dropping the charges against Coleman's alleged rapist Matthew Barnett "for lack of evidence."
Rice called it a case of "incorrigible teenagers" drinking alcohol and having sex. "They were doing what they wanted to do, and there weren't any consequences. And it's reprehensible. But is it criminal? No."
Koster, a Democrat, doesn't play a role in the Star's story, only warranting a mention as the recipient of a Change.org petition urging him to investigate Rice and the Nodaway County Sheriff's Department's involvement in Coleman's case. Koster's office has previously said that it doesn't have the authority to reopen the investigation.
But Republican Rep. Tim Jones, Missouri's Speaker of the House, believes that's not true.
"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," Jones said in his statement. "I am calling on him to utilize his authority to intervene in this matter so we can be confident that justice is served."
Tuesday's statements make Kinder and Jones the first major Missouri politicians to speak out about Coleman's case; as "Justice For Daisy" continues to grow, they could be the first of many.
UPDATE: In an interview Tuesday night with CNN, Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White criticized Kinder for getting "involved in the hype and the social media."
"[At] no point in time has the lieutenant governor's office made any request to see any actual reports from the Nodaway County Sheriff's Office, and I know that the prosecuting attorney has not been contacted by his office either," White said.
"That being said, I would welcome someone from the outside coming in and taking a look at this case, because there's no doubt in my mind that everyone would be vindicated from these absolutely outrageous accusations that have been made by people. I can only say that the sheriff's office handled this case flawlessly, as I've said before. We did our job. We responded and we put people in jail, which is what we do."
"As one of many who has now learned the details of this shocking story, I reacted with disbelief at what appears to be an absence of justice in the Daisy Coleman case. My heart goes out to Daisy and her family for all they have endured."
"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 we can be confident that justice is served."
"The people of Missouri deserve elected officials who will seek to uphold the laws of our state when it appears injustice has prevailed, and I sincerely hope Attorney General Koster will do all he can to stand in defense of those who have been victimized by crimes."
"Since Sunday I have read with growing dismay the media accounts of the Daisy Coleman case in Nodaway County. I make no claim to knowledge of all the facts. Still, facts revealed in exhaustive media reports, including the 4,000-word piece in the Kansas City Star, raise all kinds of questions that it is now clear won't be put to rest. These questions will fester and taint the reputation of our state for delivering impartial justice to all."
"I am disappointed that the Attorney General would wash his hands of the matter through a brief statement by a spokesman. The appalling facts in the public record shock the conscience and cry out that responsible authorities must take another look. I call on Attorney General 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."
"I hope that responsible officials will join me in this call for a grand jury to make the final call on whether criminal charges should or should not be filed."
White's interview with CNN's Erin Burnett:
Jessica Testa is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Jessica Testa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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