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Missouri Man Accused of Rape Charged with Misdemeanor

, The Associated Press

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MARYVILLE, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old schoolmate when he was 17 was charged Thursday with a misdemeanor child endangerment charge.

The charge against 19-year-old Matt Barnett was filed in Nodaway County Court in Maryville. He is scheduled to be arraigned later Thursday. His lawyer, J.R. Hobbs, didn't immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.

Special prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has been re-examining Daisy Coleman's allegations that Barnett raped her at a January 2012 house party, when he was a Maryville High School senior and she was a freshman. Barnett says the sex was consensual.

The Associated Press generally doesn't name alleged victims of sexual assault but is naming Daisy because she and her mother have granted public interviews.

A spokesman for Baker, Mike Mansur, referred questions to a news conference planned for after the court hearing.

Baker stepped in after the local prosecutor, Nodaway County prosecutor Robert Rice, was criticized for dropping the case. He alleged that Daisy's family had stopped cooperating — a claim Daisy and her mother, Melinda Coleman, deny.

Before dropping the case, Rice had been pursuing the same misdemeanor child endangerment charge filed Thursday by Baker.

Melinda Coleman says authorities didn't do enough to push the investigation forward, and she has alleged that Rice's decision to drop the case was politically motivated — Barnett's grandfather was a four-term Missouri state representative who was a state trooper for 32 years. Rice has denied the accusation.

Coleman said her daughter was harassed mercilessly on social media sites and at school after going to the authorities, and that it forced the family to move back to Albany, about 40 miles west of Maryville.

Barnett was a 17-year-old senior at Maryville High School on Jan. 8, 2012, when he and some other boys picked up Daisy and her 13-year-old friend from Daisy's house and took them to the home of one of the boys.

The girls admitted drinking alcohol in Daisy's home before sneaking out of the house and leaving with the boys, some of whom were friends with her older brother. Daisy claimed that when she got to the party, she was given a clear liquid that she drank before being taken into a bedroom and raped while a second boy recorded the act on his cellphone.

The 13-year-old was taken into a different room by a 15-year-old boy who forced her to have sex, something the boy admitted doing. His case was handled in the juvenile system and is not public record.

Daisy said she blacked out and doesn't remember much after arriving at the boy's home. Melinda Coleman has said she believes her daughter was given a date-rape drug.

Coleman said she awoke around 5 a.m. to a clawing sound at the front door and found her daughter shivering in sub-freezing temperatures. She said she was giving Daisy a bath to warm her up when she noticed signs that she had been assaulted.

The case and resulting publicity shook the small college town of Maryville, which was deluged with negative reactions after The Star published the results of a seven-month investigation into claims made by the Colemans. Many people condemned the town on social media — and continue to do so — for seemingly abandoning sexual assault victims.

The outcry led to a protest on Maryville's courthouse square in which a few hundred people showed up to show their support for Daisy and lambaste what they labeled as a "rape culture" that allowed the girl's assailant to go unpunished.

The story gained national attention after The Kansas City Star published a lengthy account of Daisy's claims in October.

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