Missouri officials are facing a firestorm of criticism and social media attacks over renewed interest in a 2012 case in which prosecutors dropped sexual assault charges against a prominent high school football player arrested for allegedly raping a drunken 14-year-old cheerleader and having it recorded on video.
Felony charges were also dropped against another 17-year-old senior in Maryville, Mo., who used a friend's iPhone to record a video clip of the grandson of Rex Barnett, a powerful former Republican state representative, having sex with the girl.
Separately, a 15-year-old admitted to having non-consensual sex with a 13-year-old friend of Coleman's early on Jan. 8, 2012, and served several months in juvenile detention.
About 100 miles north of Kansas City, Maryville is a small college town of 12,000 residents. It is home to Northwest Missouri State University and its Division II football powerhouse.
For many people, the case echoes the rape of a drunken 16-year-old Steubenville, Ohio, girl last year by high school football players. Last week, a grand jury investigating whether laws were broken during the probe indicted a school employee with interfering with a criminal matter.
STORY: Steubenville rape case driven by social media
This summer, Kansas City public radio station KCUR-FM reported details of the Missouri case and asked why the prosecution was dropped. But the case did not gain national prominence until Sunday, when The Kansas City Star published its investigation.
Monday, the alleged victim, Daisy Coleman, and her mother, Melinda, a veterinarian, went on CNN, calling for the case to be reopened.
It is USA TODAY's policy not to name rape victims or, in most cases, juvenile suspects. The Coleman family's decision to go on CNN, however, made the daughter's name public.
The hacker collective Anonymous launched an Internet blitz targeting Missouri officials, Barnett's grandson and his friends, and an online petition urges Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat, to investigate. On Twitter, #justice4Daisy was trending.
Michael Winter, USA TODAY