As the media focus on the Kansas City Star article (10/12/13) continues, the American public is once again watching events chillingly similar to those seen in the Steubenville, Ohio rape case. Matthew Barnett, a 17-year-old senior and football player at Maryville High in Maryville, Mo., was accused of sexually assaulting 14-year-old freshman Daisy Coleman in January of 2012.
In the early hours of Jan. 8, 2012, Coleman, along with a 13-year-old friend whose name has not been released, left her house to meet with Barnett and two of his friends. According to the Star, after providing both girls with alcohol, Barnett proceeded to have sex with the unconscious Coleman while Jordan Zech, also a football player, recorded the assault. The third boy, a 15-year-old whose name remains unknown, raped Coleman’s 13-year-old friend; she was awake during the attack and pleaded “no” multiple times.
The boys were arrested and questioned by police. They “admitted to drinking and ‘sex’ with the girls…insist[ing] what happened was consensual.” According to Missouri law, however, consensual sex is impossible if a victim is unconscious, and the legal age of consent in the state is 17. Barnett faced felony charges for sexual assault and a misdemeanor offense for endangering a child; for recording the assault, Zech was charged with sexual exploitation.
Months later, however, in March of 2012, prosecutor Robert Rice dropped the felony charges against the boys—the misdemeanor charge was dropped at a later time—stating, “They were doing what they wanted to do, and there weren’t any consequences. And it’s reprehensible. But is it criminal? No.” A second blow came to the Coleman family when, amid continuous threats of violence and acts of retribution, they were forced to leave their Maryville home.
Anonymous—a hacker and activist organization—is now involved. In a video uploaded onto YouTube on Oct. 14, titled “#OpMaryville,” the “hacktivist” group vocalizes many of the questions shared by a growing number of citizens across the country, asking, “Why were the suspects initially arrested and then released? How was video and medical evidence not enough to put one of these football players away?”
With “#OpMaryville,” the organization attempts to serve as the voice of justice. As with the Steubenville rape case, members, or anons, are calling upon the Maryville police department to provide Coleman and the second victim with the fairness they deserve. They conclude with the following: “If Maryville won’t defend these young girls…then someone else will have to stand for them…We are Anonymous…We do not forget. Join us.”