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Maryville teens' rape charges dropped

The case of the Maryville, Missouri, teens who were allegedly involved in the rape of two young girls has taken a surprising turn, as a prosecutor has elected to drop all felony charges against the three boys. The incident has sparked violent outrage in the community, but the target might not be immediately obvious. Instead of railing against the boys accused of the rape, many in Maryville are scrutinizing the alleged victims.

Few area residents argue with the facts that have been presented in the case: In early January 2012, two boys allegedly raped a 14-year-old girl and her 13-year-old friend while a third videotaped the encounter. Initial interviews and other evidence supported this assertion. Shortly after the alleged incident, the three boys were taken into custody for questioning. One of the young men, who was arrested for felony sexual assault and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child, admitted that he had a sexual relationship with the older victim. He argued that the sex was consensual, however. Still, sex is defined as non-consensual when a victim is under the influence of alcohol. The young woman's BAC seven hours after drinking remained at about 0.13 percent.

The boys also admitted to leaving the young woman outside in the cold, with little clothing except for sweatpants and a t-shirt. Further evidence from the video tapes corroborated this narrative. At first, local residents expressed sympathy for the victims, but a growing contingent came to support the accused. That group included local prosecutors, who say that there is simply not enough evidence to take the case to trial. Even though many say that the children should not have been drinking and carousing that night, they argue that no criminal activity occurred.

This is an example of fair treatment through the legal system. When prosecutors do not have enough evidence to consider convicting a defendant, they should abandon the case. The alleged offenders in this case were able to benefit from scrutiny of the facts. Legal officials made the right choice in protecting these boys' futures from an unnecessary conviction.

Source: www.kansascity.com, "Nightmare in Maryville: Teens' sexual encounter ignites a firestorm against family" Dugan Arnett, Oct. 12, 2013

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