On January 8, 2012, 14 year old Daisy Coleman and her 13 year old friend, Paige Parkhurst, snuck out Daisy’s home, after consuming stolen alcohol, and went to a party thrown by high school football players. At said party, both Coleman and Parkhurst were given more alcohol to drink, and then were raped by two older football players. A third boy filmed the incident.
Following the sexual assault, the boys took Coleman and her friend and dumped them off at Coleman’s house. Coleman, still semi-conscious due to the high amounts of alcohol in her system, languished outside her home all night in 22 degree weather. She was discovered by her mother the next morning, clawing at the front door to get in. Upon taking both Coleman and Parkhurst to the hospital, it was discovered that both girls had indeed been raped, and Coleman’s alcohol level was at 0.13, 7 hours after the incident occurred.
That morning, the county’s sheriff’s department received warrants for the arrest of the three teens and the boys, along with much evidence, were apprehended.
However, despite the convincing details of the story and admittance of the teen that he and Coleman had indeed had sex, the charges were dropped by the County Prosecutor, Robert Rice. Rice stated, “there was insufficient evidence to prove a criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt.The State’s witnesses refused to cooperate and invoked their Fifth Amendment privilege to not testify.”
Nodaway County Sheriff, Darren White, corroborates Rice’s statement: “They wouldn’t cooperate and then they said they would cooperate. And then they wouldn’t cooperate. And then they went back and forth.” White added that, “The only people’s stories that have been inconsistent throughout this whole thing are the Colemans’ — are the victims in this case — and I don’t know why that is.”
Despite Rice’s and White’s statements that the Coleman’s refused to cooperate, Daisy’s mother insists that they did everything they could to further the investigation: “How do you think we didn’t want to cooperate? We went to get a rape kit done. I wrote a statement, and my daughter gave a statement to the police.”
The case was dropped in March 2012, but a recent story ran by the Kansas City Star over the weekend drew national attention to the issue. Not only have social media outlets taken up the mantle for ensuring justice, but Anonymous has entered the ring as well.
Anonymous is a loosely-organized internet-based hacktivist group known for “defending the defenseless”. Anonymous does not typically associate itself with rape cases, but once injustice receives enough national attention, the group has a tendency to exert its influence (Also, it doesn’t hurt that they were called out in a tweet which stated, “This is what happens when Anonymous doesn’t get involved in a rape case,” with a link to the Kansas City Star article.)
Tuesday, Anonymous sent a message to the town of Maryville, Mo:
“We demand an immediate investigation into the handling by local authorities of Daisy’s case. We have heard Daisy’s story far too often. We heard it from Steubenville, Halifax and Uttar Pradesh. … 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.”
Following pressure from the Kansas City Star article and Anonymous, County Prosecutor Robert Rice called for a special prosecutor to take a look at the case: “The public trust in our criminal justice system must be upheld at all times. My name was dragged through the mud in that [Kansas City Star] article, and I don’t appreciate that. The way the article was written inflamed passions.”
If inflamed passions is what it takes to force Rice to reopen a prematurely-closed case, then inflamed passions must be created. While the Coleman family must be ecstatic that the case is being looked at once again, their main objective is not to seek punitive justice: “I think just having it looked at fairly and having other people know how much we were bullied goes a long way. Even if that’s all that ever comes out of it. That may be enough to move on and have some peace and some security,” stated Daisy’s mother.
At the end of the day, however one views the case, all the frustration and confusion seems to be due to a breakdown of effective communication. Both Rice and White state that the Coleman’s were uncooperative with the investigation, while the Colemans state that they don’t know what else Rice and prosecutors wanted them to do. This case exemplifies why proper communication and dissemination of ideas and information is becoming increasingly vital in a state with ever-escalating amounts of bureaucracy and red-tape.
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