Earlier this week, the Kansas City Star dropped a story about an alleged rape, cyber-bullying, and small-town politics that is shaping up to be the next Steubenville. The short version: Two underage girls from Maryville, Mo., claim they were raped by high school football player Matt Barnett—who also happens to be the grandson of a local politician—and one of his friends. One of the girls, Daisy Coleman, was found, semi-conscious, on the front porch of her home by her mother the next morning. A third boy says he videotaped some of Coleman's encounter with Barnett, but that video has yet to be recovered.
A thorough investigation into the incident was conducted, plenty of corroborating evidence and testimony was collected, and then the case was mysteriously dropped by prosecutor Robert Rice for reasons nobody can seem to explain. The Colemans also claim that Daisy was mercilessly cyber-bullied by classmates, and that the unsupportive community in Maryville eventually drove them out of town. Now, local lawmakers are calling for the case to be re-opened.
Yesterday, Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder called for a grand jury investigation. His statement reads in part:
I am disappointed that the Attorney General would wash his hands of the matter through a brief statement by a spokesman. The appalling facts in the public record shock the conscience and cry out that responsible authorities must take another look. I call on Attorney General Koster and Prosecutor Rice to join me in asking that the Circuit Court convene a grand jury to review all the evidence, hear all witnesses, and issue a decision as to whether charges should ensue.
I hope that responsible officials will join me in this call for a grand jury to make the final call on whether criminal charges should or should not be filed.
Kinder's statement has received support from state house speaker Tim Jones, who also called on the state attorney general to reopen the case in an official statement.
The accusers in the case have also begun to speak out publicly. Yesterday, Daisy Coleman and her mother appeared on CNN to express their displeasure at how the case has been handled. Daisy claimed that she would be willing to testify in open court if the case is re-opened, and her mother hinted that Barnett may have victimized other girls.
The second accuser, the previously anonymous Paige Parkhurst, went on Al Jazeera America and corroborated Coleman's story. Here is how she described the night in question:
And we got there, and they just started handing her drink after drink after drink. And they had separated us as soon as we got there. And another boy that was there with me, had taken me into another room, and had sexually assaulted me, after me telling him no, pushing him away. And after he was done, he made me go back out into the living room with him, and we sat and waited until Matt was done with Daisy. And I had walked into Matt’s room, and she was incoherent. She couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk, and just was talking like a baby pretty much.
And now, just to add more parallels to Steubenville, the hacktivist group Anonymous has vowed to get involved as they did in the Steubenville case.