A horrifying story out of Missouri: A mother was run out of a small town after her daughter blacked out at a party filled with older high school athletes and was left, with clear marks of rape, on the front lawn of her home in freezing weather.
The Kansas City Star details how the small town of Maryville turned against a newly-arrived family after 14-year-old Daisy Coleman reported that an older athlete had sex with her while another older male videotaped, after she was given an alcoholic drink at a party that left her barely able to stand. Her friend, a 13-year-old, was also made to have non-consensual sex.
After a thorough investigation by the local police however, clearly implicating 17-year-old Matthew Barnett in the sexual assault, charges were inexplicably dropped by the prosecuting attorney. Barnett, coincidentally, is the grandson of a prominent former Missouri state representative.
Star reporter Dugan Arnett writes,
Sexual assault cases can be difficult to build because of factors such as a lack of physical evidence or inconsistent statements by witnesses. But by the time his department had concluded its investigation, Sheriff Darren White felt confident the office had put together a case that would “absolutely” result in prosecutions.
“Within four hours, we had obtained a search warrant for the house and executed that,” White told The Star. “We had all of the suspects in custody and had audio/video confessions.
“I would defy the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department to do what we did and get it wrapped up as nicely as we did in that amount of time.”
But no prosecutions ever came. The charges were dropped by the prosecuting attorney who didn't believe the evidence was strong enough. He dismissed any idea that political influence had anything to do with his decision.
In the meantime, the town had already begun to turn on the Coleman family. Threatening phone calls and online threats were directed at the family. Melinda Coleman had moved to the town with her four children after her husband, a physician, had died in a car accident. She was easily targeted by the community for being an outsider.
The parent of one of the teens at the Barnett house that night was the only one to comment briefly to The Star: “Our boys deserve an apology, and they haven’t gotten it yet.”
In a later interview, Rice [the prosecuting attorney] called it a case of “incorrigible teenagers” drinking alcohol and having sex. “They were doing what they wanted to do, and there weren’t any consequences. And it’s reprehensible. But is it criminal? No.”
Robert Sundell, who represented Barnett, echoed that sentiment: “Just because we don’t like the way teenagers act doesn’t necessarily make it a crime.”
After the charges were dropped, things just got worse for Melinda and Daisy Coleman. Daisy has struggled with depression and attempted suicide. Melinda had to move away from Maryville and back to the town she had lived in with her now-deceased husband. In April, the house in Maryville she still owned burned down under mysterious circumstances.
And Matthew Barnett, the young man accused by Coleman of raping her? He's attending the University of Central Missouri and apparently having a great time:
In a recent retweet, he expressed his views on women — and their desire for his sexual attentions — this way:
“If her name begins with A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z, she wants the D."