A Missouri prosecutor who dropped charges in a controversial rape case will ask a court to appoint a special prosecutor to review the facts and look at possibly refiling charges.
Nodaway County Prosecuting Attorney Robert L. Rice said Wednesday that he was making the request after CNN aired interviews this week with the alleged victim, Daisy Coleman, who says she was raped when she was 14, and her mother.
At a news conference, Rice also cited a recent article in The Kansas City Star that questioned the integrity of the investigation.
"The public trust in our criminal justice system must be upheld at all times," he said.
The case dates to January 8, 2012. But after The Kansas City Star featured the story over the weekend, it gained traction on social media and spread to a wider audience.
Rice spoke one day Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder made a public appeal for a grand jury investigation into the case.
The prosecuting attorney said that witnesses in the case invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and declined to cooperate. Rice added that he couldn't provide reporters with court documents showing the witnesses' refusal to cooperate because those records are closed.
He said he was upset that his decision was called into question in media accounts.
"My name was dragged through the mud in that article, and I don't appreciate that," Rice said. Referring specifically to The Kansas City Star story, he added: "The way the article was written inflamed passions."
City of Maryville officials held a separate news conference after Rice's event and asserted that they had nothing to do with the county prosecutor's earlier decision to drop charges.
The city, however, has been targeted with cyberthreats in the wake of publicity about the case, and public safety patrols have since been increased, City Manager Greg McDanel told reporters.
"We've been stunned by the nature of cyberthreats" against the city in general, he said. "In recent weeks, the city has received a great deal of negative attention.
"It's detrimental to the lives and livelihood of the residents of Maryville," McDanel added.
There's been a public "misconception" that the city was involved in the investigation, he said. "The city of Maryville was not involved ... in any way."
Rice has said he dropped a sexual assault charge against the boy because the alleged victim and her relatives refused to cooperate. A charge against the boy's friend who was accused of recording part of the incident on an iPhone was also discontinued.
The iPhone video was deleted the night of the alleged assault and wasn't retrievable, Rice said Wednesday.
The alleged victim told CNN that she believes the charges were dropped against Matthew Barnett, then 17, because his grandfather is a former state legislator. That relative, Rex Barnett, told CNN Wednesday he had "absolutely" no role in the prosecutor's decision.
CNN does not typically identify alleged victims of sexual assault but has done so in this case because Daisy and her mother, Melinda Coleman, have chosen to go public.
Both mother and daughter have denied refusing to cooperate with prosecutors.
Rex Barnett, a former Republican state representative who is a retired 32-year veteran officer of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said he made a deliberate decision to avoid local police and prosecutors during the investigation because of his political standing.
"As long as I've been in politics and law enforcement, I knew that if this thing drug on long, I would be pulled into it somewhere, I think, just for political reasons," Barnett told CNN. "So I made it a point not to talk to the prosecuting attorney, to the sheriff, to any of the witnesses directly or indirectly, and I stuck to that. And I'm glad I did."
He said the case was dropped "because of a lack of testimony from the complainants. And without that, the prosecuting attorney has no case."
The ongoing controversy has been hard on his family, he said. "It's been tough," he said. "I mean, we thought it was over a year and a half ago, and to my knowledge, there has been no change, nothing more evidentiary has come up that I know of.
"But (the case has) resurfaced, and I'm not sure why," he added.