The Maryville rape case that blew up earlier this week after Anonymous set their operatives on the believed instance of lapsed justice has been a flashpoint of outrage — and the parents of accused rapist Matthew Barnett have lashed out at the movement to re-open the investigation.
The facts in Maryville are somewhat shockingly not in dispute. Barnett, then 17, admitted to having sexual relations with Daisy Coleman, then 14, and Paige Parkhurst, then 13. Coleman was the original female named in the case, despite the convention of keeping victims of sexual assault and minors in such instances anonymous — it was the Coleman family who stepped forward.
Paige Parkhurst later also identified herself, and Matthew Barnett and his accomplice too were named. The actual acts in play the night of the alleged rape remain a matter of agreement between the parties — Coleman was plied with alcohol and the acts in question were filmed by a friend of Barnett’s.
After the early 2012 Maryville rape, local authorities declined to prosecute, now blaming the Coleman family for not “cooperating” with their investigation. Melinda Coleman, mother of Daisy, has vociferously denied any lack of cooperation in the refusal to bring charges against Barnett and his friend.
Typically, the question of consent when very young teenagers are involved is not as relevant as it is in a rape case involving adults, as the ability to give consent at very early ages is not considered to be valid.
Mrs. Coleman said it was this very thing that caused the family such grief when the local authorities declined to prosecute — even if they now say it was the Coleman family who impeded the investigation:
“I was absolutely horrified. After the last conversation I had with the Sheriff, I thought everything was on track and then all of a sudden the case was dropped. I understand proving non-consent is hard, but surely that is for a jury to decide?”
Despite the very young ages of Coleman and Parkhurst, Matthew’s mother Shirley Barnett says that the allegations — which have reportedly caused the Coleman family to be shunned in Maryville — are “one-sided,” and not as damning as they appear.
Barnett declined to explain how the instance of sex with intoxicated 13 and 14-year-olds could possibly be ambiguous, instead saying:
“The more you dig, you will get closer to the truth. It is not on the surface, you’re going to have to dig for it. Unfortunately we can’t help with that because that is not our personality.”
Matthew’s father objected to the characterization of his son as a football star, adding:
“My kid is being assassinated. The way this has all been spun, for example my son being a football star, he was not a football star, he was a back up.”
According to the father of Matthew Barnett, the blow-up in Maryville has been hard on the Barnett family, and he says:
“Is Matthew OK? How can you go through this and be OK, you can’t go through this experience and be OK… You can’t have your picture plastered all over the world news and be portrayed as something when you know in your heart what happened and be OK. How can anybody in our family be OK over this?'”
Barnett’s mother made the comments during a press conference in Maryville during which town prosecutor Robert Rice stated an intent to reinvestigate the alleged rapes of Daisy Coleman and Paige Parkhurst.