[TRIGGER WARNING: rape, abuse, threats of violence, bullying, victim-blaming.]
14-year old Daisy and her 13-year old friend Paige snuck out of Daisy’s home late one night to meet a few football players Daisy knew from school. They went to a party at the home of 17-year old star athlete Matthew Barnett, where they were given near-deadly doses of alcohol and promptly raped: Daisy by Barnett and Paige by a 15-year old boy. Daisy’s rape was captured on video by a third d00d. Of course it would later be shown around to other people at school.
Sound familiar? It should: it has striking parallels to the Steubenville, Ohio rape of a 16-year old girl.
Afterward, the girls were driven back to Daisy’s house by Barnett and another d00d. Paige, the 13-year old, made it back inside and passed out. Daisy was left for dead in her front yard in sub-freezing weather. Her mother discovered her the next morning, by the sound of her scratching at the front door. Her hair was frozen solid. She undressed her daughter to get her into a warm bath, and discovered…well, obvious signs of rape. They went to the hospital, where Daisy’s blood alcohol content, after 7 hours, tested at .13. The local sheriff’s office was called. The investigation was prompt and professional. Search warrants were executed for the Barnett home. Sheriffs seized a blanket, bedsheets, a pair of panties found on the floor, a bottle of Bacardi Big Apple, and three cellphones, including the one allegedly used to record Daisy’s rape.
Rape cases are notoriously hard to prove, usually because of conflicting witness statements: “he-said-she-said,” wherein he is usually believed or at least given the benefit of the doubt—as statistically unlikely as his story is—and she is usually disbelieved and not given the benefit of the doubt, or worse, blamed for her own rape. But this time things were different. Once the the investigation concluded, Sheriff Darren White said he was confident his 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,” he told The Kansas City Star, “We had all of the suspects in custody and had audio/video confessions.”
As it turns out, however, Matthew Barnett is from a prominent local family. You know: older relatives with serious political power. Social prestige. Ties to cops, and to county prosecutor Robert Rice. Two months after the arrests, charges were inexplicably dropped. After declining any comment, Rice would later tell a reporter who showed up unannounced that the charges were dropped “for lack of evidence.”
But that was hardly the worst of the aftermath—not by a long shot. Initially there was some sympathy expressed for the victims. But just as in Steubenville, large segments of the town’s citizenry rallied around their star athletes and went after the victims with a vengeance. (The viciousness is reminiscent of the Penn State riots in the wake of Joe Paterno’s firing for covering up child sexual assaults.)
Two days after Daisy was found freezing on her doorstep, threats and taunts were already emerging on Twitter and Facebook. The brother of one of the boys who was at the Barnett home that night urged that Daisy “gets whats comin.” Daisy was suspended from the cheerleading squad. There was the suggestion that Daisy’s brothers would be beaten up in the school parking lot. At his Senior Night with the wrestling team, her brother was booed. In the weeks following the arrests, he was told that his mother and sister were “crazy bitches,” that Barnett was blameless, and that Daisy had been “asking for it.” At a competition, a girl wore a shirt that said “Matt 1, Daisy 0.” Her mother, a veterinarian, was fired: her boss had ties to the family of one of the boys at the Barnett home that night. She acknowledged the case complicated her relationship with Daisy’s mom, and said it was “putting stress on everybody in here.”
After the charges were dropped the vitriol intensified. A typical tweet to Daisy:
“F— yea. That’s what you get for bein a skank : )”
And on and on it went. The constant threatening, hounding and vilification by the community became too much for the family, and they were forced to move away.
Then their house was burned down. The remaining structure was deemed “too unstable” to investigate.
And this was still not the worst of it. Over the last two years, Daisy has been hospitalized four times, spent 90 days at an inpatient facility, and attempted suicide twice. She told a local radio station “You’re the s-word, you’re the w-word … b-word. Just, after a while, you start to believe it.” (She has not spoken publicly since.) Paige has fared somewhat better: she suffers from flashbacks and nightmares, and for a long time afterward dragged her mattress into her brother’s bedroom at night to sleep.
Meanwhile, of the three young men arrested, two now play for Northwest Missouri State University athletic teams. Matthew Barnett is enrolled at the University of Central Missouri. He recently retweeted:
“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.”
And this is where these stories usually end. Victims lives are devastated—whether they report the assault or not, and most do not. Their rapists move on, to sleep like babies, and, more likely than not, to rape again.
But this story may not be over. Not just yet. Just as they did in the Steubenville case, hacktivist collective Anonymous is bringing the heat:
We are #OpMaryville.
Two young girls have been raped in the town of Maryville, Missouri.
Another high school football star, the grandson of a Missouri state official, has walked free. The people of Maryville turned their backs on these victims and one family has been forced to flee the town. After they left, their house was burned to the ground.
On January 8th, a 14-year-old girl named Daisy and her 13-year-old friend were both raped in Maryville. Evidence of this assault was captured on film. Daisy’s unconscious body was later dumped into her family’s yard, left alone for hours in freezing weather. One of Daisy’s attackers was initially in police custody, where he admitted to having sex with her while she was under the influence.
He claimed it was consensual. The hospital states the young girl’s blood alcohol level was almost twice the legal limit and they discovered three tears inside of her body, 2-4 inches
This suspect rapist is Matthew Barnett, a student at the University of Central Missouri. He’s the grandson of Missouri state Representative, Rex Barnett.
We demand an immediate investigation into the handling by local authorities of Daisy’s case. Why were the suspects initially arrested and then released? 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?
We have heard Daisy’s story far too often. We heard it from Steubenville, Halifax and Uttar Pradesh. In some cases, action meant nothing because it couldn’t bring them back. Both Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons, girls not much older than Daisy, took their own lives after the adults, the police and the school system, failed to protect them. If Maryville won’t defend these young girls, if the police are to cowardly or corrupt to do their jobs, if justice system has abandoned them, then someone else will have to stand for them. Mayor Jim Fall, your hands are dirty. Maryville, expect us.
We Are Anonymous.
We Are Legion.
We do not forgive.
We do not forget.
Nightmare in Maryville (via @duganarnett at @KCStar)
Timeline of the Maryville Rape: (Peggy Lowe at @kcur)
A fundraiser had been set up for Daisy, but she has declined to accept money and instead wishes that anyone desiring to make a donation do so to KC Pet Project, a no-kill animal shelter in Kansas City, Missouri.
A Facebook page is set up here.
There is a Justice For Daisy Twitterstorm: info here.
A peaceful protest is scheduled for October 22 at the Nodaway County Courthouse in Maryville, Missouri. Organizers are asking that you carry daisies if you attend.