UPDATE: The time of the protest has been changed to 6:00 p.m. Central Time.
Months after Anonymous launched extensive social media operations targeting two different teen rape cases, the infamous Steubenville, Ohio, rape and that of Nova Scotia teen Rehtaeh Parsons, the shadowy hacktivist group has announced plans to stage a live demonstration in Maryville, Mo., in support of another teen rape victim, Daisy Coleman.
In a message uploaded on Pastebin, Anonymous announced that they were organizing a peaceful protest aimed at urging Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster to reopen the case, and investigate the lack of charges against the accused rapists. According to a Facebook page created for the event, the protest will take place at the town’s Nodaway County Courthouse on Tuesday, Oct. 22, beginning at 10 a.m. Central Time.
The event’s organizers state that the objective of the demonstration is “to get the case reopened so that justice may be served.” The group has been using hashtags like #OpMaryville and #Justice4Daisy to circulate news about the story. Protest organizers have urged outraged citizens to contact Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rice, and to send daisies over to the courthouse.
Anonymous has also encouraged the media to file FOIA requests for information that might link one of the rapist's grandfathers, Missouri state Rep. Rex Barnett, to the prosecution team.
The announcement of the protest comes just days after the Kansas City Star broke a shocking story reporting that two local high school football players had all charges against them dismissed after they raped two young girls who were drunk, later depositing one of the victims unconscious on her front porch in freezing temperatures without shoes or a coat. When her mother found her on their front lawn more than three hours later, her hair was frozen and she had frostbite on her feet.
According to the report, the girls were supposed to be having a sleepover at the home of the older victim, 14-year-old Maryville High School student Daisy Coleman -- whose mother consented to her identification to bring attention to the case -- when they snuck out to attend a party three miles away.
The party was hosted by Matthew Barnett, a popular 17-year-old senior and football star, with whom Daisy had been texting. Inside, Barnett and his friends served the girls more alcohol and he later brought a passed-out Daisy into his bedroom and had sex with her, according to the Star report. As in other teen rape cases before Daisy’s, one of Barnett’s friends, 17-year-old Jordan Zech, filmed the sexual assault on his cellphone.
According to court documents that Daisy’s mother provided to the Star, another boy at the party also filmed Daisy’s 13-year-old friend being raped in an adjacent room.
The rapes polarized the small city of 12,000 when they became public knowledge. Community reaction has reportedly ranged from anger at the perpetrators, to fury at victim and her family. Daisy was suspended from her cheerleading team, her older brother Charlie was booed by students during a Senior Night celebration where he appeared with his wrestling team, and two weeks after the assault, their mother, Melinda Coleman, was fired from her job at a veterinary clinic.
Her boss privately told her that the possibility she might pursue civil charges against the two boys was “putting stress on everybody in here.”
Anger within the town eventually got so bad that Melinda Coleman heeded her lawyer’s advice and put their home up for sale and moved the family back to Albany. Shortly after they moved out, however, a fire broke out in the house. Six months later, Maryville Fire Department Capt. Phil Rickabaugh said the cause was still unknown.
“We started to dig in and investigate it,” he told the Star, but workers determined that the building was unsafe. “Several weeks later, an insurance investigator came in, and it was heavily investigated by private parties. [But] we never have heard anything else out of that.”
According to the Star, Daisy has since undergone regular therapy and been admitted four times to a local hospital. Her family told the newspaper that she has attempted suicide twice since the rape.