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Category: News

January 10, 2014

Washington DC (1/10/2014) – The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) is saddened by yesterday’s announcement that no sexual assault charges would be pursued against Matthew Barnett in the Maryville case. Barnett was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child (leaving the semi-conscious 14-year-old lying barefoot in the frozen yard of her house) and was sentenced to two years’ probation and no jail time. His attorney said the charge “accurately reflects the conduct of which he should be held accountable for.” [1]

We share the concern for and support of the Coleman family expressed across the country, in particular the sentiments shared by the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence (MCADSV) yesterday. [2] While we are heartened that Missouri’s rape laws have been strengthened to include cases where a victim is unable to consent, we are still outraged by this case and the damaging, victim-blaming message that it sends to teenagers across the country: that a teenage girl reporting a rape perpetrated by a football star will ultimately lose.

Earlier this week, Daisy Coleman, the 14-year-old victim who has been cyberstalked and threatened repeatedly, attempted to take her own life. [3] Coleman, now 16, had attended a party for one hour over the weekend and was “torn to smithereens” by her former friends on social media afterward.

Instead of attacking, blaming, and ridiculing victims of sexual assault, we need to take tangible steps to hold offenders accountable. This includes charging offenders with crimes equal to their actions, educating bystanders about the staggering realities of sexual assault and domestic violence, and supporting survivors when they have the courage to step forward.

 

[1] CNN, “Man pleads guilty to misdemeanor 2 years after teen claimed she was raped,” Steve Almasy and Kyung Lah (1/9/2014) http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/09/justice/missouri-alleged-sex-assault/

[2] Missouri Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Assault, “MCADSV reacts to Maryville case” (1/9/2014) http://www.mocadsv.org/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=52

[3] Time, U.S., “Maryville Rape Case Teen Attempts Suicide” (1/7/2014) http://nation.time.com/2014/01/07/maryville-rape-case-teen-hospitalized-after-suicide-attempt/