Bullied teen girl in Maryville rape case hospitalized after apparent suicide attempt

By David Ferguson
Tuesday, January 7, 2014 11:20 EDT
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Daisy Coleman, the teenage girl at the center of a controversial rape case, has been hospitalized after an alleged suicide attempt. Kansas City, Missouri’s Fox 4 News reported that Coleman attempted to end her life on Sunday, but was unsuccessful.

Coleman was 14 in January of 2012, when the 17-year-old son of Republican state representative plied her and a 13-year-old friend with alcohol and then had sex with the semi-conscious girls. The assailant, Matthew Barnett, recorded the alleged assault on his phone, then left Coleman unconscious on her family’s frozen front lawn in Maryville, Missouri.

Barnett was arrested and charged in the case and confessed to police that he and his high school football teammates had sexual relations with the girls. He maintained that the girls were intoxicated, but awake, and that the sex and taping were consensual. Weeks after his arrest, all charges against Barnett were dismissed.

Barnett’s grandfather, Missouri state Rep. Rex Barnett (R) said that his political influence had no part in the dismissal of charges. The prosecutor heading the case said that the teenagers involved were simply being teens and “doing what they wanted to do, and there weren’t any consequences. And it’s reprehensible. But is it criminal? No.”

In the wake of the assault, Daisy Coleman became the victim of a vicious bullying campaign, both online and off. The family left Maryville, but were unable to sell their house there. The house burned to the ground last year under what police deemed a “suspicious circumstance.”

In October, the hacker activist collective Anonymous mounted a collective call for action in the case. Not long after, the state’s Lieut. Gov. Peter Kinder (R) and Speaker of the Missouri State House Speaker Tim Jones (R) called for a special grand jury investigation into the case.

The girl’s mother, Melinda Coleman, told Fox 4 that Daisy went to a party on Sunday for about an hour, then came home. Not long after, the girl’s Twitter account was hit with an onslaught of harassment and bullying.

It was the cyber attack, she said, that drove Daisy to harm herself. The girl is currently in stable condition in a children’s psychiatric unit in Kansas City.

[Editor's Note: An earlier draft of this article identified Rex Barnett as a state senator from Kansas rather than Missouri]

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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