Maryville, Mo. Rape Case Draws National Attention
Beginning at 2 p.m. CT Tuesday hacker activist group Anonymous launched a twitter awareness campaign (#OpMaryville) aimed at putting pressure on Attorney General Chris Koster to launch an investigation into the lack of charges against Barnett.
Both Gov. Jay Nixon and Koster are not commenting at this time.
MARYVILLE, Mo. (KMOX) - A seven-month investigation by the Kansas City Star has shed light on a dark event in the northwestern Missouri town of Maryville.
In the early morning of Jan. 8, 2012, 14-year-old Daisy Coleman was found passed out on her mother’s icy doorstep. She had sneaked out the night before, attended a party, and drank alcohol.
As Daisy and her mother would soon discover, she had also been raped.
Matthew Barnett, a 17-year-old boy Coleman had met at the party, was charged with sexual assault and endangering a child. Another teenager was charged with videotaping the alleged incident.
“We snuck into his house through his basement window, and I went to go sit on the couch, and he gave me a big glass of a clear liquid. And that’s all I remember,” Coleman told CNN Monday.
Barnett later told police that he knew Coleman had been drinking and had sex with her while she was drunk. But he told authorities the sex was consensual.
Robert Sundell, an attorney who represented Barnett, said in a written statement that while many may find his former client’s behavior “reprehensible,” the legal issue is whether a crime occurred. He said the investigation raised questions about whether Coleman was “incapacitated during the encounter.”
About two months after the incident, the charges against Barnett, the grandson of a former state representative, were dropped due to a lack of evidence.
Life for Daisy Coleman and her family worsened.
Many in the town seemed to close ranks around the accused and suggested Coleman and her friend were somehow responsible for the alleged raping, the Star reported.
Daisy’s mother Melinda Coleman, a widow, was fired from her job at a veterinary clinic by a boss who cited concerns over lawsuits. Daisy became a target on social media and attempted suicide on two occasions.
Fearing further threats, the Colemans left Maryville. Not long after, their empty house burned down in an unsolved fire.
Maryville resident and Representative Mike Thomson (R-MO 1st District) told KMOX Tuesday journalists are blowing the alleged rape out of proportion.
“I don’t know the facts of this case, if things should have gone differently, I don’t know. But to be depicted the way we’re being depicted across the nation right now is a shame,” said Thomson.
Adding, “I have read some of the articles that are out there, and they say, “How do you sleep?” You know, I sleep fine and I don’t even lock my doors, because I live in a small community where I trust my neighbors and they’re good people.”
A “Justice For Daisy” Facebook page garnered thousands of fans on its first day and the hacker activist group Anonymous issued a statement Monday, pledging to target Maryville Mayor Jim Fall and others they feel mistreated the Colemans.
The case has drawn comparisons to a rape case in Steubenville, Ohio, where two 17-year-old high school football players were convicted of raping a West Virginia girl after an alcohol-fueled party in 2012.