October 14, 2013

Credit: Flickr

UPDATE: Early this morning, in response to the Star‘s report, Anonymous posted a letter to the town of Maryville:

"We demand an immediate investigation into the handling by local authorities of Daisy’s case. Why was a suspect, who confessed to a crime, released with no charges? How was video and medical evidence not enough to put one of these football players inside a court room? What is the connection of these prosecutors, if any, to Rep. Rex Barnett? Most of all, We are wondering, how do the residents of Maryville sleep at night?

If Maryville won’t defend these young girls, if the police are too cowardly or corrupt to do their jobs, if justice system has abandoned them, then we will have to stand for them. Mayor Jim Fall, your hands are dirty. Maryville, expect us."

If it seems sometimes that the world has gone completely mad, perhaps it's because it indeed has:

Kansas City Star:

"There wasn’t much left by the time she arrived, just a burnt-out structure and the haze of smoke that lingered around it.

The siding and gutters had melted. The roof was gone. Inside, piles of ash filled the rooms that had once bustled with the pleasant sounds of a family."

The Kansas City Star lays bare the horrific facts of two young rape victims who were shamed, vilified, run from a community and then a family home burned to the ground as a small town stayed silent.

"Few dispute the basic facts of what happened in the early morning hours of Jan. 8, 2012: A high school senior had sex with Coleman’s 14-year-old daughter, another boy did the same with her daughter’s 13-year-old friend, and a third student video-recorded one of the bedding scenes. Interviews and evidence initially supported the felony and misdemeanor charges that followed.

Yet, two months later, the Nodaway County prosecutor dropped the felony cases against the youths, one the grandson of a longtime area political figure.

The incident sparked outrage in the community, though the worst of it was directed not at the accused perpetrators but at a victim and her family. In the months that followed, Coleman lost her job, and her children were routinely harassed. When it became too much, they left, retreating east to Albany.

Coleman had hoped the move would allow them to heal in peace, that the 40 miles separating the towns would be enough to put an end to their bitter saga.

Now, though, as she stared at the charred remains of her house, the distance didn’t seem nearly enough."

The Colemans had moved to Maryville not long after the death of Mr. Coleman, in a tragic car accident from which two of the children had escaped by crawling out of a rear window. The new home was to be a place to escape the constant reminders of the accident, to heal, and begin anew.

"For the most part, the family settled nicely into its new surroundings. Charlie, the oldest son, became a three-sport athlete at Maryville High, eventually earning a baseball scholarship to Baker University. Logan, two years younger, was an accomplished wrestler with a good group of friends, and Tristan, the youngest, was everyone’s pet.

And then there was Daisy.

Pretty and blond, she had grown up competing in beauty pageants, amassing a dresserful of trophies. Though slower than her brothers to assimilate, midway through her freshman year at Maryville High, she seemed to be finding her place.

A member of the school’s cheerleading team, she was already part of the varsity squad that performed at boys basketball games. Her grades, her mother says, were nearly all A’s, and she had begun to make friends as part of a local dance team.

And she’d recently captured the attention of a popular senior football player, a 17-year-old with whom she had begun texting.

His name was Matthew Barnett, and for a girl still trying to make her way in a new place, the attention was flattering."

The alleged perpetrators in this case admitted that they had plied the minors with alcohol, the confessions were on tape, the evidence included a video, and it was admitted that the boys had left the girl out on the yard.

With all the neatly tied up evidence it sounded as if this was a case that was bound for a speedy resolution in court. But, often in small communities the response to even video evidence and confessions can catch you off guard.

"Two days after discovering her daughter on the front porch, Coleman says, she got a phone call from another mother warning her that online threats were being levied against the Coleman children, including a suggestion that her sons would be beaten up in the school parking lot.

When she checked online, she discovered that many of the comments were aimed at Daisy. On Twitter, the brother of one of the boys at the Barnett home that night wrote that he hoped Daisy “gets whats comin.”

Daisy was suspended from the cheerleading squad for her role in the night’s events. Barnett did not finish his senior year there, according to his lawyer.

During his Senior Night with the wrestling team, Charlie was booed by some students. Among the comments that made it back to him in the weeks following the arrests: that his mother and sister were “crazy bitches,” that Barnett was blameless, and that Daisy had been “asking for it.”

“There were several days,” Charlie says, “I just wanted to go knock a kid’s teeth out.”

At a dance competition, Melinda Coleman says, a girl arrived wearing a homemade shirt: Matt 1, Daisy 0."

In Maryville, the Barnett name carries a good deal of weight.

Rex Barnett served 32 years with the Missouri Highway Patrol’s Troop H before embarking on a fruitful political run. In 1994, the Republican was elected as a state representative, serving four terms before leaving the House in 2002.

He also has political ties to prosecutor Rice. Barnett’s granddaughter worked as a volunteer on the campaign of U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, who also employs Rice’s sister as an aide in constituent services.

In the aftermath of the dropped charges, this wasn’t lost on many in the town.

The cause of the fire at the Coleman home is still officially "unknown."

The girls involved have had a rough time with recovery, suicide attempts, hospitalizations.

The young men present at the Barnett home that night, meanwhile, seem to have moved on, and both attend universities.

Based on his Twitter account, before it was locked to non-friends, the events of the past two years haven’t dampened his enthusiasm for the opposite sex.

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.”

It's a really long article, but well worth the read.

There is so much to examine here, the sports influence, the small town aspect of how they view "outsiders," how boys are raised to view women, and the out of sync with reality sense of "entitlement" that permeates within the Republican party.

I hope you'll read this one, and share your thoughts in the comments.

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