19-yr-old Maryville man pleads guilty to endangering child in Daisy Coleman case

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Jean Peters-Baker, Jackson Co. Prosecutor, was selected as special prosecutor to examine Nodaway Co. case involving Daisy Coleman.

Jean Peters-Baker, Jackson Co. Prosecutor, was selected as special prosecutor to examine Nodaway Co. case involving Daisy Coleman.

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MARYVILLE, Mo. — Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker announced Thursday that rape charges in the Daisy Coleman case would not be filed against Matthew Barnett, 19.

However, Barnett was charged with endangering the welfare of a child, and pleaded guilty to that charge.

In October 2013, Peters-Baker was selected to investigate the Maryville rape accusation case that gained national attention and widespread criticism for the way it was handled by the local Nodaway County prosecutor.

“This case will be thoroughly reviewed,” Peters-Baker said back in October. “Our review of this case will be without fear and without favor.”

Nodaway County Prosecuting Attorney Robert L. Rice had asked the court to appoint a special prosecutor to review the case of Daisy Coleman, who said she was 14 in January 2012 when Barnett, then 17-years-old, had sex with her without her consent while a second teenage boy recorded the incident with his cellphone. Daisy’s family said after the assault, the boys dropped her off at her house, where she remained outside, passed out, in dangerously cold temperatures.

As part of the plea agreement, Barnett will receive two years probation. He cannot consume or possess alcohol. He cannot contact the victim or her family.

Other conditions include:

  • He must complete 100 hours of community service
  • He must pay restitution to the victim for mental health counseling services, which won’t exceed $1,800
  • He must subject himself to drug testing
  • Must complete substance abuse counseling
  • Must acknowledge wrongdoing and apologize in person to the victim

Jean Peters-Baker said when Daisy Coleman is ready, Peters-Baker will deliver that apology to Daisy. Peters-Baker said the apology she heard Thursday from Barnett sounded genuine.

Before the question could be asked, Peters-Baker explained the reason she did not pursue rape charges against Barnett.

“My job is to analyze evidence. In this case, there was insufficient evidence to go forward on a sexual assault,” said Peters-Baker. “Our system of justice works because it is evidence-based. We don’t always like the outcome.”

In the weeks that followed her daughter’s alleged assault, Melinda Coleman said her children received threats. She was also fired from her job as a veterinarian at a clinic.

In April, their house in Maryville — which had been vacant and for sale — burned. The state fire marshal said that “due to the unsafe nature of the structure, a detailed examination could not be conducted and this fire loss is being listed as undetermined.”

Rice, the Nodaway County prosecutor, said Daisy and her family stopped cooperating with the investigation and therefore he was forced to drop two charges against the accused.

Daisy’s family disputed that and said they believe the charges were dropped because the boy is the grandson of former state legislator Rex Barnett. The Colemans say they were harassed and tormented by many people in the county who had strong ties to the boy’s family.

Anonymous, the activist hacking collective that has instigated cyber attacks on such groups as the Church of Scientology and the Westboro Baptist Church, launched an on-line campaign on behalf of Daisy, demanding an immediate investigation.

The charges against Matthew Barnett could have resulted in a maximum sentence of one year and jail and a $1,000 fine.

“This is a conviction and will remain on his record and never go away,” Peters-Baker said.

Watch our earlier report:

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