The Missouri sheriff accused of not following up on a rape case that has drawn the ire of the hacker group Anonymous defended his department’s actions while also criticizing Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (R) for joining in the call for revisit the case.
“I would welcome someone from the outside coming in and taking a look at this case,” Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White told CNN host Erin Burnett on Tuesday. “There’s no doubt in my mind that everyone would be vindicated from all of these outrageous accusations that have been made by people.”
White’s office has come under criticism after charges were sexual assault and other charges were dropped against Matthew Barnett, who had been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting Daisy Coleman in Maryville, Missouri in January 2012. Barnett, who was 17 years old at the time, reportedly plied Coleman, who was 14, with alcohol and left her outside her house in freezing weather. Barnett reportedly argued to authorities that his encounter with Coleman was consensual, and that it was filmed on an iPhone.
A subsequent report by the Kansas City Star on the incident suggested that the political standing of Barnett’s family enabled him to evade serious charges. Coleman and her family moved out of Maryville, but their former home — still owned by her parents — burned down in April 2013, an event authorities called a “suspicious circumstance.”
On Monday, Anonymous vowed to investigate the incident further, saying in a statement, “Mayor Jim Fall, your hands are dirty. Maryville, expect us.”
Kinder issued his own statement on Tuesday asking for the case to be re-opened. White responded by telling Burnett that Kinder “has chosen to simply also get involved in the hype and the social media,” and defended his department’s performance.
“I can only say that the sheriff’s office handled this case flawlessly,” White told Burnett. “As I’ve said before, we did our job, we responded and we put people in jail, which is what we do.”
But Burnett then played audio from a phone conversation between Coleman’s mother and White in which he said authorities could not pull information from the phone, despite a police report stating that pictures, videos and text messages between the two minors were recovered from it.
“I personally never saw anything that came off of that iPhone,” White told Burnett, arguing that evidence procured from phones and computers is sent to the Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory in Kansas City. “Their report came back that there was no video of that nature on the phone.”
Watch Burnett’s interview with White, aired Tuesday on CNN, below.