As if it weren’t enough that a 14-year-old Daisy Coleman had been raped with more than enough evidence to secure a conviction – a case that was unbelievably dropped by the prosecutor. As if it weren’t enough that her and her family were then basically ran out of town for daring to seek justice. As if it weren’t enough that we just learned last week that she had been hospitalized with possible brain damage after a suicide attempt. Today we learn that the case that has had all of us shaking our heads in confusion and rage has ended with a guilty verdict. But the suspect has not been found guilty of rape. He was able to plea down to a misdemeanor child endangerment charge.
I’m not really sure what to say here.
Let me just remind you of a few things. After the attack, she was dumped, unconscious, on her mother’s porch in freezing temperatures. She wasn’t wearing shoes. She suffered frostbite and her hair was frozen.
Sexual assault cases can be difficult to build because of factors such as a lack of physical evidence or inconsistent statements by witnesses. But by the time his department had concluded its investigation, Sheriff Darren White felt confident the office had put together a case that would “absolutely” result in prosecutions.
“Within four hours, we had obtained a search warrant for the house and executed that,” White told The Star. “We had all of the suspects in custody and had audio/video confessions.
But the charges were dropped by a prosecutor who didn’t think there was enough “evidence.”
To make matters worse, the Coleman family felt it best they leave the town of Maryville due to these sorts of threats being made against them. The house they left in Maryville that they were trying to sell mysteriously burned to the ground in April. Melinda Coleman fears arson due to the town member’s being angry about the rape case.
So attacked, left to freeze to death, ran out of town and driven to a suicide attempt. Now, a misdemeanor child endangerment charge:
Prosecutors say Barnett, who was then 17, endangered a semi-conscious Coleman when he allegedly left her barefoot in the frozen yard of her home hours before the sun rose.
No matter that there was photographic evidence of her attack. No matter that there were panties, sheets, empty bottles of booze. No matter that there were confessions. It’s a wonder that any teenage girl could ever feel safe in a world where this chain of events could occur.
Thanks Anonymous, for your relentless work in getting this back before a judge.