Hundreds rally in Maryville in support of Daisy Coleman - KCTV5

Hundreds rally in Maryville in support of Daisy Coleman

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Betsy Webster/KCTV5 Betsy Webster/KCTV5
MARYVILLE, MO (KCTV) -

More than 400 people attended a peaceful rally held Tuesday night in Maryville in support of Daisy Coleman, whose plight has drawn international headlines.

The event was initially scheduled to put pressure on Nodaway County Prosecutor Robert Rice to reopen the rape investigation after Coleman says she was raped by a classmate and small-town politics led to the case being scuttled. The focus changed after it was announced on Tuesday that Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker would serve as a special prosecutor and review the case.

"We are here today to stand up for someone who has decided to use her voice," Claire Major of MO Now said.

Maryville resident Kevin Romig concurred.

"We're just wanting to make sure that not just Daisy but other people who have had some sort of violence or trauma realize that the community is behind them and they're never alone," Romig said.

National media outlets including CNN and Inside Edition were present for the rally held in Maryville's downtown square. Law enforcement officials also were on hand in case there were any issues.

Courtney Cole, who helped organize the rally, said those at the event hoped to show support for Coleman and her family as well as other rape victims. She said victims should be encouraged to seek help "because they are not alone."

"Hopefully this will give them the courage to get the help they need," she said.

Most of those at the rally were from the Maryville community or the region. Some did travel from as far away as Des Moines, IA. Many brought daisies in support of the teen.

Daisy Coleman says she was 14 in January 2012 when a 17-year-old boy plied her with alcohol and had sex with her while a second 17-year-old recorded the incident on his cell phone. The boy was a football star and is grandson of a former Missouri House member. He is now a college student in Missouri.

He has claimed it was consensual sex.

Felony charges against both boys were dropped months later after Rice said Coleman and her family stopped cooperating with the investigation.

Melinda Coleman said she, her daughter and other members of the family never stopped cooperating but looks forward to answering questions in a new review of the case. The family's home burned down after they left Maryville and no arrests have been made.

KCTV5 is naming the girl because Melinda Coleman has identified her daughter.

Cole said the point of the rally wasn't to further divide the community.

"It's really just about bringing awareness to the issue and making sure too that our judicial system is working," she said. "This has been fast tracked and I really give a lot of credit to the public for stepping up and putting the pressure on when it was needed and backing off when it was needed too."

Some hope the attention will lead to a change in attitudes when it comes to rape, especially date rape.

"Rape culture is prevalent and so insidious that it allows people to think that drinking gives predators the social license to operate," said Kansas City, MO, resident Miranda Fletcher.

James Duncan said the attitude of blaming a rape victim and saying she deserved it because of how she dresses and acts must change.

"I think we are slowly getting the message," he said.

Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White said he wanted to have enough deputies on hand to respond as needed if there were any problems by not have too many where they were as intimidating those at the rally. He said he believes Baker's appointment has eased tensions significantly.

"Perhaps some people were saying, 'Hey, this is what we wanted, and there's no reason to create any further conflict,'" he said.

It wasn't immediately clear whether any members of the Coleman family attended the rally, but earlier reports had indicated that they did not plan to attend.

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