Maryville Rapes: Have We Learned Nothing From Steubenville?
Back in December, I wrote about a horrifying event in Steubenville, Ohio that only got worse as the media became more aware of it and the case finally went to trial.
A young girl went to an end-of-summer party held by a volunteer football coach, and will probably regret it for the rest of her life. She was sexually assaulted. People offered money to anyone who would urinate on her. Pictures were taken and disseminated on the web. The town blamed the girl and tried to bury the case, until the Internet took over, forcing them to take a harder look. And then, mainstream media lamented the loss of the convicted perpetrators' “promising futures."
As if rapists have any chance at a “promising” future anywhere besides the quarterback position of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Allegedly.
Well, it seems a little town called Maryville, in Missouri, has trumped that despicable tale. And once again, it's in the name of saving the “promising futures” of a couple high school boys.
The situation started innocently enough. A 14-year-old girl (14) and her 13-year-old friend (13) began flirting with teammates of 14's older brother. Then, late one night, they sneaked out to visit the boys at the house of Matthew Barnett, the boy 14 was flirting with.
When they got there, alcohol was waiting. Thirteen was taken into a room alone with a 15-year-old boy who admits to having sex with her after she repeatedly told him "no." When they left, 14 was inebriated, and had to be carried to the car. And she was crying. As it turns out, Barnett is alleged to have raped 14 while his friend, Jordan Zech, filmed it. Though the footage is said to have made its rounds at their school, Maryville prosecutors claim they couldn't find it.
After the attack, the boys dropped the girls off at 14's house. They sent 13 inside, and said they'd help 14 get in. Instead, they left her outside in temperatures lower than 30° for at least three hours. When her mother finally found her, her hair was frozen, her underwear was missing, and her belongings were strewn across someone else's yard.
Mom started to put 14 in a warm bath to get her body temperature up, and noticed her genitals and buttocks were red and agitated. When mom asked about it, the teen said it hurt, and burst into tears. That's when mom knew and contacted authorities.
The harassment started almost immediately, both online and off. Fourteen and her siblings had to transfer schools. Fourteen has attempted suicide multiple times since it happened. Eventually, after being fired because of the rape accusations, mom moved the family back to their hometown. Shortly after they moved, and before they had a chance to sell, their home in Maryville was burned to the ground under “suspicious circumstances." The cause has yet to be determined.
And yet, 14 still has not seen justice. In fact, despite Maryville police claiming they had ample evidence to convict both Barnett and Zech, including the girl's panties found at the scene, all charges were dropped. It turns out Barnett has family in the state's legislature, though Barnett's grandfather claims to have steered clear of the case.
Mom and 1,200 others who heard of the case pressed the state's attorney to investigate, but he claims it's not within his right to do so. So, while mom and her children are still being harassed, and continue to lose parts of their lives to this tragedy, the boys involved are moving on with their lives. And judging by their social media interaction, they've learned all they could learn from this case: women are toys to be used for men's sexual whims, and having a granddaddy in the government makes you bulletproof.
Seems to me the only thing we've learned from Steubenville is how to be more volatile in our approach to silencing victims of sexual assault when the perpetrators have “ties to the community.” Disgusting.