Coleman Home Maryville MO

Steubenville by another name

*Trigger warning*

Coleman Home Maryville MO

Image via David Eulitt/Kansas City Star

This is what silencing looks like.

After their 14-year-old daughter was left unconscious in the 30 degree cold on the doorstep of their home after she was allegedly raped by a high school senior from her school last January, the Coleman family, who initially garnered sympathy from the Maryville community, experienced harassment and discrimination. Melinda Coleman, the mother of the victim, was inexplicably terminated from her job, and her daughter Daisy was called a “bitch” and a “whore” and was told she  was “asking for it.” The victim-blaming got so bad that the Colemans moved out of Maryville, and last April the family’s home which was up for sale was burned to the ground. Local authorities deemed the fire “suspicious.” The Kansas City Star provides a thorough accounting of the Maryville community’s handling of the assault and the horrifying ordeal the Coleman family has experienced.

While an investigation and interviews provided evidence that a crime had been committed, the charges against the teens involved in the assault were abruptly dropped by the prosecution. One of the accused boys is the grandson of GOP state politician.

Anonymous has taken up the cause, exerting their considerable influence to agitate for institutional justice:

We demand an immediate investigation into the handling by local authorities of Daisy’s case. Why was a suspect, who confessed to a crime, released with no charges? How was video and medical evidence not enough to put one of these football players inside a court room? What is the connection of these prosecutors, if any, to Rep. Rex Barnett? Most of all, We are wondering, how do the residents of Maryville sleep at night?

We have heard Daisy’s story far too often. We heard it from Steubenville, Halifax and Uttar Pradesh. In some cases, it was too late. Both Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons, girls not much older than Daisy, took their own lives after the adults, the police and the school system, failed to protect them. If Maryville won’t defend these young girls, if the police are too cowardly or corrupt to do their jobs, if justice system has abandoned them, then we will have to stand for them. Mayor Jim Fall, your hands are dirty. Maryville, expect us.

We have heard this story far too often. And our hearts go out to Daisy and entire Coleman family.

SYREETA MCFADDEN is a Brooklyn based writer, photographer and adjunct professor of English. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches and Storyscape Journal. She is the managing editor of the online literary magazine, Union Station, and a co-curator of Poets in Unexpected Places. You can follow her on Twitter @reetamac.

Syreeta McFadden is a contributing opinion writer for The Guardian US and an editor of Union Station Magazine.

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