KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Depositions in a northwest Missouri teen sex assault case show contradictions in statements between a girl who says she was raped by an older schoolmate and her mother, who waged a high-profile fight late last year to have the case reopened.
The special prosecutor in the case released depositions on Friday of Daisy Coleman and her mother, Melinda Coleman, taken in July 2012. Jackson County prosecuting attorney Jean Peters Baker served as special prosecutor after Nodaway County Prosecutor Robert Rice asked for someone else to review the evidence amid questions about why he dropped charges against the teenager Daisy said assaulted her.
In more than 100 pages of testimony, the Colemans described the night in January 2012 when Daisy — at the time a 14-year-old Maryville High School freshman — drank with a girlfriend before asking Matt Barnett, a then-17-year-old senior, to come pick them up after they sneaked out of Daisy's home.
Daisy says Barnett took her to his house, plied her with alcohol and raped her when she blacked out. Melinda Coleman found her daughter shivering on the front porch around 5 a.m. the next day, her hair wet.
According to the depositions released Friday, Melinda Coleman told Rice that Daisy had been less than truthful on some things in her deposition and attributed that to the girl's embarrassment over the ordeal. For example, Rice at one point had asked Daisy about an incident in which she burned the name of a boy into her skin. Melinda Coleman said that it was Barnett's name; Daisy said in her deposition that it was another boy's name.
At one point, the mother suggested that the contradictions likely would keep the case out of a courtroom.
"I don't — I don't think that you probably can try this case now. I think there's been too many lies," Melinda Coleman said.
The Colemans and their supporters later claimed Rice dropped a felony assault charge against Barnett because of insensitivity, prosecutorial ambivalence and political pressure from the boy's grandfather, a retired state trooper and four-term state legislator.
Melinda Coleman told The Associated Press on Friday that she hadn't seen the depositions — which she said Rice had denied even existed — and she didn't believe some of what was purported to be in them.
"Quite frankly, Robert Rice is a liar and I wouldn't be surprised if he put that in there himself," Coleman said.
Daisy's story made headlines nationwide and beyond after The Kansas City Star published a 4,000-word article in October detailing the girl's claims against Barnett.
The AP generally doesn't name the victims of sexual assault but is naming Daisy because she and her mother have granted public interviews.
In January, Barnett pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment after Baker concluded there wasn't enough evidence for a felony conviction. Barnett has not denied the two had sex but has insisted it was consensual.
Robert Sundell, an attorney who initially represented Barnett after he was charged, said Friday he was glad the documents were released.
"If all of the records and all of the evidence were made public, I think it would be pretty easy for anyone to recognize why the case didn't go forward," he said.