A 14-year-old girl was drugged and raped. This is the story of Maryville, Mo. sweeping the country.
Protests have been held, the group Anonymous has threatened and petitions have been signed because of what happened in this small city in a flyover state. The lens is on Maryville not because of rape, but the subsequent community response. The attention is on the city because of cowards who laid down their duty and disregarded justice, destroying a family.
Daisy Coleman was new in Maryville, having moved there with her family following the loss of their father in a car accident. She was pretty, talented and, by all accounts, a normal teenager. One boy, a senior and member of the football team, took a special interest in Daisy, flirting and texting, as one does. Daisy was of course flattered and happy to be liked.
One night, Daisy and her friend were having a sleepover. Regrettably, one of the girls brought some alcohol. After a few drinks, they decided to go see the boys who paid them such attention. Arriving at the boys’ house, Daisy was given a tall glass of clear liquid and taken to a bedroom.
She lost consciousness, not being able to recall the subsequent events. Her friend protested through a drunken haze as another boy took her into a room and raped her. Daisy’s mother found her daughter outside the next morning in the cold, wearing little clothing.
Daisy was blamed for what had happened. She had been raped, that much was clear. Law enforcement officials gathered clear evidence, more than enough to prove guilt. Part of “rape culture” or “victim blaming” followed the news.
Daisy was vilified and blamed for the rape. Peers said she had been “asking for it” and was “a whore.” This attitude toward sexual assault is wrong, but we hold on to the hope that justice will prevail.
Up to here, the story isn’t surprising. Chances are, some people reading this have been victims of sexual abuse. We’ve all seen examples of victim blaming. Often, one of the first questions asked about rape is, “Well, what was the girl wearing?” As though a woman triggers uncontrollable urges, presenting herself as a willing victim of animalistic abuse, tempting men as walking pornography.
This is where the Maryville story takes a disgusting twist. This is what has people across the country up in arms.
With clear evidence, confessions and video, the charges against the young man were suddenly dropped. The case was closed, with no possibility of being reopened. Daisy’s mother was fired from her job and Daisy’s brothers were practically driven out of school.
The young man in question was part of a connected family. He had relatives in important local and state politics. He was the prince of Maryville. While officials say no calls or favors were made, one, of course, assumes a message was understood: The prince can’t be accused or blamed.
Maryville is disgusting not because Daisy was raped, nor even because she was blamed for it. Maryville is despised because adults decided to let their royalty walk away and kick justice to the curb for the sake of convenience. Judges, employers, police officers and public officials joined and said, “How dare you accuse OUR boy, you whore.”
The family left town. Mrs. Coleman returned only to see the charred remains of the home she had put up for sale. No official details of the fire’s cause have been released, but everyone assumes arson. The young man is a University student, but Daisy has been in constant counseling and attempted suicide on several occasions.
The Maryville case is the epitome of “rape culture.” This is the culture we live in: one in three women in Utah are victims of sexual abuse, but 88 percent of rapes aren’t reported.
To those who have suffered like Daisy: You are not to blame for a man taking advantage of you and using your body. Tell someone; it’s not your fault. Any man who would rape a woman has the same dignity, honor, and respect as a rabid dog.
To Maryville and our little valley: Stop blaming rape victims for what happened to them. No one “asks for it.” I don’t care if the girl is drunk as a skunk; she shares no blame for what happens.
Stop crying out that men are being victimized as women falsely accuse them of rape in courtrooms. Stop looking at rape victims as unclean, unwanted or somehow undesirable. Stop saying, “Boys will be boys, and these things happen.”
We’re all trying to get along in life. Let’s help each other and just be nicer. Can’t we just be decent human beings?
Joshua Wartena is a senior studying Journalism and Spanish at UVU and will graduate in Fall 2014. He is hoping to work as a middle-east correspondent or long-form magazine writer in South America. Josh is currently living in Orem and is the Opinions Section Editor