A Platte City High School student has been sentenced to eight years in prison for raping an underage girl. Dakota D. Cochran, 17, received the sentence in Platte County Circuit Court on July 7 after pleading guilty to first degree rape and second degree child molestation.

Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said, “I cannot say it often enough: Sex without consent is rape. Period. This defendant’s age does not excuse his crime.  He has learned a hard lesson.  He will continue to learn that lesson for the next eight years and then beyond as a registered sex offender for the rest of his life.”

Cochran admitted he took the victim to a deserted gravel parking lot in rural Platte County.  He then forced himself on top of her while she tried to push him off. 

The next thing the victim recalled, she was in the back seat of Cochran’s car, and he was raping her.  She continued to struggle against him and tell him, “no.”  After the rape, Cochran drove the victim to her friend’s house.  Cochran later sent a picture to the victim showing the boxers he was wearing during the assault stained with blood.

The victim immediately told her friend that Cochran had raped her.  A sexual assault examination was conducted at Children’s Mercy Hospital and revealed significant evidence of trauma consistent with sexual assault.

Further investigation by the Platte County Sheriff’s Department uncovered three other high-school aged female victims who said that Cochran committed unwanted sexual acts against them.

While the case was pending, another high school student harassed the victim online and accused her of lying about the rape.  The victim told detectives that it was difficult for her to be at school because some of the male students would harass anyone who supported the victim.  The victim’s mother testified at sentencing that, shortly after the case was filed, school administrators found the victim crying in a closet at school.

Zahnd said, “I am incredibly proud of the victim in this case.  She is a courageous young woman who stood up to her rapist by coming forward.  Her courage will help protect other young women.”

“But to those young men who berated the victim, I say this:  Your actions have caused additional harm to the victim of a despicable crime.” Zahnd continued.  “This is an opportunity for self-reflection and improvement.  We cannot tolerate a culture that blames rape victims.”

If Cochran’s case had gone to trial, the jury likely would have known about his other sexual misconduct, thanks to an amendment to the Missouri Constitution passed in November 2014 allowing juries to know about the prior criminal acts of sex offenders.  Zahnd chaired the effort to pass that amendment.

Judge Van Amburg handed down the sentence during a hearing attended by members of Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) in support of the victim.

The case was investigated by the Platte County Sheriff’s Department.  It was prosecuted by Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys Blake Sherer and Christopher Seufert.
 
A photo of Cochran is above.  If you need additional information, please contact our office’s media liaison, Tanya Faherty.
 
Eric G. Zahnd
Platte County Prosecuting Attorney
415 Third Street, Suite 60
Platte City, Missouri  64079
(816) 858-3476
(816) 858-3472 (fax)