Yael T. Abouhalkah

Jean Peters Baker will make sure justice is done in Maryville

Updated: 2013-10-23T00:06:52Z

By Yael T. Abouhalkah

The Kansas City Star

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker would be an excellent choice to serve as special prosecutor in the Maryville case involving alleged sexual assault.

She should personally accept the job, as offered by a judge to her on Monday.

Look at it this way: Baker is not part of any, good-old boy system that is at the heart of what appears to have gone terribly wrong in the Maryville case, according to critics.

Instead, Baker is a woman, a hard-nosed prosecutor who helped pursue Bishop Robert Finn on accusations that he had failed to report suspected child abuse in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. A judge last year sentenced him to two years of probation for that charge.

And more to the point, here’s what Baker said after Finn’s sentencing:

“All of us are responsible for the protection of children. None of us should ever place on a child the responsibility for their own safety. That's our job. That's a leader’s job.”

So Baker has a special affinity for knowing that people in power can fail children, especially when it comes to sexual abuse.

In the Nodaway County case in Maryville, prosecutor Robert Rice last week had asked a judge to appoint a special prosecutor after The Star reported on a case involving two teenagers accused in the alleged sexual assault of Daisy Coleman, a then-14-year-old student.

The charges eventually were dropped, but concerns exist to this day that was because of political favoritism.

If Baker investigates the Maryville case and no charges are filed, that will be because it was too weak to prosecute.

But if she does move ahead with the case eventually, make no mistake: She will pursue it all the way and make sure justice is done.

To reach Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/YaelTAbouhalkah.

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