The county prosecutor at the center of controversy in a sexual assault case in northwest Missouri has asked for a special prosecutor to look into it. Nodaway County Prosecutor Robert Rice says he has asked a judge to appoint a special prosecutor who can decide whether charges will be filed in the case.

Rice says he made the request after witnesses in the case said they would cooperate with the prosecution. He had earlier said they would not.

National and international attention has been on Rice since an article Sunday in the Kansas City Star detailed the alleged sexual assault of two girls, ages 14 and 13, in Nodaway County on January 8, 2012.

The accused attackers were then members of the Maryville High School football team, one of them the grandson of a once-prominent Nodaway County politician. That boy was originally arrested and charged in connection with the incident.

Barnett dismissed the charges in the case claiming a lack of evidence and additional information brought to his attention about the incident. He denies political influence played a role in his decision to dismiss those charges.