On January 7, 2012, a 14-year-old freshman at Maryville High School in Maryville, Missouri, was raped at party hosted by senior Matthew Barnett.
The girl, Daisy Coleman, told investigators she had been brought to the party by Barnett and that he raped her. Charges, including sexual assault, were brought against Barnett in January 2012. The assault charge was suddenly dropped in March 2012, with Coleman and her family maintaining that he committed this heinous crime, reports The Kansas City Star.
Here's what you should know about Barnett and his role in this disturbing story.
1. Shortly After She Started at Maryville High, Barnett Began Texting Daisy Coleman
Daisy Coleman became acquainted with Matthew Barnett in 2011 as Coleman began her freshman year. Barnett was a senior football player with the school's team, the Spoofhounds, and she was a junior varsity cheerleader.
Barnett was a friend of Coleman's older brother. Charlie Coleman told The Kansas City Star: "I told her to stay clear of that kid. But honestly, what teenage kid want to listen to her older brother?"
Despite her brother's warnings, Daisy Coleman entered into a relationship of texting with Barnett. Days before Coleman was raped, Barnett had been a guest of Charlie's at the Coleman family home, where a large group gathered to watch football.
On January 7, 2012, Coleman and a 13-year-old friend from Albany, Missouri, were in Coleman's bedroom watching TV, chatting and sipping Bacardi. At one point, mother Melinda Coleman checked up on the girls, and everything seemed in order. Throughout the evening, Coleman had been texting Barnett. Eventually Barnett arranged with Coleman to pick up the two girls and drive them to his house, provided they could sneak out. Barnett arrived at the Coleman home around 1 a.m.
— Anonymous Operations (@YourAnonCentral) October 14, 2013
When the pair arrived at Barnett's home they were introduced to Maryville High School's top wrestler, Jordan Zech, another senior. Zech's family were Maryville royalty, as they owned the town's popular A&G restaurant. They were also introduced to another 15-year-old, whom Coleman already knew, and another football player who was a junior.
Coleman says Barnett and the boys convinced her to drink "two glasses of clear alcohol," which brought on extreme intoxication. With Coleman unable to speak coherently, according to witnesses, due to her level of inebriation, at one point she went off alone with Barnett. What occurred after this point is unclear.
2. Doctors Determined Coleman Was Raped, but the Charge Against Barnett Didn't Stick
After Daisy Coleman's mother, Melinda Coleman, discovered her daughter's physical injuries and doctors determined she was raped, charges of sexual assault were brought against Barnett in January 2012. Barnett's family were left shocked in March of that year when the charges were dropped by prosecutor Robert Rice, who cited lack of evidence. Believing it was the "right call" to drop the charges, he said:
The state does not have proof beyond a reasonable doubt that those two defendants committed the charges that were originally filed against them after concluding our investigation. We did have all the medical, and all the information where we could make a decision based on the evidence, and I am absolutely convinced it was the right call to do, and it was the right decision to dismiss it.
An online petition on Change.org claimed the charges were dropped before forensic results were returned. The petition states that the real reason for the dropping of the charges was Barnett's family's influence in the town of Maryville.
3. Just Weeks Before the Assault on Coleman, Barnett Got a DUI
This police blotter (above) lists a drunken-driving arrest for Barnett, but we were unable to find any reference to sentencing in the DUI case.
This North West Missouri article regarding Barnett's court appearance on the assault charges relating to Coleman makes no mention of his DUI.
4. Barnett is the Grandson of a Local Republican Leader
Barnett's grandfather is Rex Barnett, a GOP state representative for Missouri. A Kansas City Star article describes Rex Barnett as having:
...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.
Rex Barnett told the Kansas City Star he wanted no part in his grandson's case:
As far as contacting anybody, even to get information, I wasn’t even going to do that. Because I knew that any contact whatsoever by me with the sheriff’s department or prosecuting attorney — or any witness, as far as that goes — would have been bad for me and bad for the case.
The same article goes on to state that Rex Barnett's granddaughter (whose relationship to Matthew Barnett is unclear) worked for Rep. Sam Graves' campaign alongside the sister of prosecutor Robert Rice.
A Daily Mail article from 2012 states that local Sheriff Darren White serves on "at least one committee" with Rex Barnett.
5. Barnett Faces an Online Campaign to Get the Charges Against Him Reinstated
A thread was set up on Topix that noted Matthew Barnett was going to be a freshman at the University of Central Missouri. One poster noted that he should be in jail. Another says:
Women on campus need to be aware, this piece right here, felt it was okay to rape 14 year old. Be sure to treat him with the same respect. And his family wants the victim's family to apologize for what their son has gone through. No sense of responsibility for one's own actions!
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?
We have heard Daisy's story far too often. We heard it from Steubenville, Halifax and Uttar Pradesh. In some cases, it was too late. 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 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...We Are Anonymous. We Are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Join us.
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) October 14, 2013