An Internet hacking group Anonymous organized a rally Tuesday night in the Missouri suburb where an investigation of an alleged sexual assault case involving two former 17-year-old high school football players and a 14-year-old girl is taking place.
The international activist group gathered outside the Maryville, Mo., courthouse to protest the dropped felony charges against two young men who have been accused of sexually assaulting 14-year-old Daisy Coleman at a party in January 2012, and recording the act with a cell phone. The group Anonymous also planned a “Twitter storm” to bring attention to the event and support Coleman, with the hashtags, #OpMaryville and #Justice4Daisy.
Betsy Webster of KCTV 5, a Kansas City news station, tweeted she counted between 400-450 at the rally Tuesday evening.
The rally’s organizer, Courtney Cole, told the Kansas City Star that the number of protestors was not as high as expected because Prosecutor Jean Baker had been appointed Monday to look into the case. She will review the evidence and determine whether or not to refile charges.
Daisy Coleman and her mother Melinda told CNN last week that she had been taken to the hospital after she was left unconscious in her front yard. A medical examiner found evidence suporting her claims of forced sexual intercourse, but Nodaway County prosecutors dropped the initial charges and the case citing “insufficient evidence.”
“We demand an immediate investigation into the handling by local authorities of Daisy’s case,” Anonymous said in a statement posted online. “We have seen Daisy’s story all too often.”
“Maryville, expect us,” the statement read.
Daisy Coleman also indicated in her interview that a friend who accompanied her to the party with the two football players was also sexually assaulted. Melinda Coleman suggested that there may be more young victims who have been assaulted by the same high school football players who attacked her daughter.
Daisy wrote her own account about what happened to her that night in a piece published in xoJane last Friday. Daisy writes that the “nightmare” of her sexual assault continued even after the alleged incident.
“That one night took it all away from me. I’m nothing more than just human, but I also refuse to be a victim of cruelty any longer,” she wrote. “This is why I am saying my name. This is why I am not shutting up.”
“Our review of this case will be without fear and without favor,” prosecutor Baker told reporters on Monday. “I can assure you that politics, connections, or any other reason you can think of will not play a role in our review of this case.”
“Someone to look at it fairly and with some enthusiasm,” Melinda Coleman told the Kansas City Star newspaper. “I’m OK with wherever it falls from there. As long as we have a just, fair chance at it.”
In a statement, Maryville Public Safety Director Keith Wood said his department, the Nodaway County Sheriff’s Department, the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Northwest Missouri State University Police Department said the city expects up to 2,000 people for the 6 p.m. rally.
On the Justice for Daisy Facebook event page, Melinda Coleman said her daughter would not be attending the rally to keep it a peaceful one and to avoid any potential violence.
“I don’t want others terrorized as we have been,” Coleman said.
In interviews with the Kansas City Star, Coleman and her mother pointed out that the young man accused of assaulting Daisy is from a prominent local family. Since the cases against the two boys have been dropped, records have been sealed.
Melinda Coleman told the Kansas City Star that her daughter and family had to move away from Maryville after receiving persistent threats from their neighbors.
Nodaway County Prosecutor Bob Rice dropped the felony charges against the two boys, saying Daisy, her mother and other witnesses were uncooperative with prosecutors.
“There was insufficient evidence to prove a criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt,” Rice said in a statement. “The state’s witnesses refused to cooperate and invoked their 5th Amendment privilege to not testify.”
Daisy and her other have denied Rice’s statement and has urged for their case to be reopened.