Earlier this week, Pat Ryan documented the case of Daisy Coleman, a 14-year-old girl from Maryville, Missouri, who was raped by a local high school football player, Matthew Barnett. Her case was later dismissed for lack of evidence, allegedly because of her rapist’s local fame and powerful grandfather, a Missouri state representative.
Now Coleman is telling her story over at the blog site XO Jane. After sneaking out at night, Barnett took Coleman back to his house where he and four of his friends gave her a glass brimming with alcohol, which she swallowed:
Then it was like I fell into a dark abyss. No light anywhere. Just dark, dense silence — and cold. That’s all I could ever remember from that night. Apparently, I was there for not even an entire hour before they discarded me in the snow.
Waking up was a complete blur. I had to be carried into my mother’s bedroom, in complete and total confusion. I was freezing and sick and bruised, my hair in icy chunks weighted against me. When my mom gave me a bath, she saw that I was hurt down in my privates.
We all knew something wasn’t right. Something had gone wrong in the night.
My mother told me she found me outside, left for dead, and when she heard me trying to get to the door, she thought it was a dog scratching. I was weak and could have died in the below freezing temperatures.
Next thing I knew, I was in the ER getting blood drawn and having various tests done. We all knew what had happened, we just wanted someone else to say it for us. The doctors examined the rape kit and verified that our nightmares were real. This nightmare, though, didn’t end. It continued on for many long months. It was only later I learned that my best friend, a year younger than me, had been raped, too.
Coleman lost faith in God, engaged in self-mutilation, and tried to kill herself twice. She was bullied, suspended from the cheerleading squad, and had to endure a video of the rape being passed around school. The Colemans moved out of Maryville and later learned that their house had been burned to the ground. Coleman’s mother maintains that she cooperated with prosecutors and has provided tapes that seem to back this up. She also says that a connected friend told her that political favors were called in to the prosecutor in the case, Robert Rice, who later dropped the charges.
As with every story with unanswered questions, we should judge this one carefully and prudently. Perhaps further details will emerge that lessen Rice’s culpability or provide some legal backing for his actions. But we do know that Barnett admitted to having sex with Coleman and Missouri law classifies sex as non-consensual if the victim is incapacitated by alcohol. We know that Coleman’s BAC was still 0.13 the morning after the incident. We know that Barnett abandoned Coleman outside on a frigid morning.
And we know that Coleman was the victim of a horrific and scarring crime. She wasn’t “asking for it.” And she deserves justice.