The parents of Matthew Barnett are speaking out in support of their son, one of the accused rapists in the Maryville, Mo., sexual assault case.
In an interview with the MailOnline, school teacher Shirley Barnett remained confident of her son's innocence, claiming that the truth will eventually be discovered.
“The more you dig, you will get closer to the truth. It is not on the surface, you’re going to have to dig for it, and unfortunately we can’t help with that because that is not our personality,” she said. “I teach school and I teach people in my class, you treat people the way you want to be treated.”
Barnett was charged with rape after the teen had sex with then-14-year-old Daisy Coleman. The incident occurred at a house party held at the home of the Maryville football player. Another boy was also accused of videotaping the incident, but authorities were unable to find a video linking him to the assault, and the charges against him as well as a third boy involved were dropped. Then, two months after being charged with sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child, charges against Barnett were also dropped.
Paige Parkhurst -- a second victim who says she was raped at the same party -- has also stepped forward. A 15-year-old boy was sentenced in juvenile court for assaulting Parkhurst --who was 13 when the assualt occured, reports Al Jazeera. Both of the girls say they are sharing their stories in order to encourage other sexual-assault victims to speak out.
The case has ignited a blaze of news stories and protests from social organizations outraged that charges against Barnett were dropped. And on Wednesday, Nodaway County Prosecutor Robert Rice – the prosecutor for the original case -- requested the court appoint a special attorney to reopen and review the sexual-assault case.
Matthew’s father, 52-year-old pastor Tommy Barnett continues to defend his son against the allegations, claiming Matthew is being incorrectly portrayed by the media. “There are hundreds of cases across the nation. My kid is being assassinated. The way this has all been spun, for example, my son being a football star, he was not a football star, he was a back-up,” said Barnett. His wife added that their son – who is currently attending the University of Central Missouri – is having a difficult time dealing with the scrutiny.
“Is Matthew OK? How can you go through this and be OK, you can’t go through this experience and be OK,” she said. “You can’t have your picture plastered all over the world news and be portrayed as something when you know in your heart what happened and be OK. How can anybody in our family be OK over this?”
The Kansas City Star broke the story, which detailed that Daisy and Paige were served alcohol and raped at Barnett's home by two high-school football players. Following the assault, an unconscious Daisy was then driven back to her home and dropped on her front yard -- without shoes or a coat -- in freezing temperatures. Daisy wasn’t discovered by her mother, Melinda Coleman, until more than three hours later. Melinda believes the charges against the boy were dropped for political reasons.