Just when you thought this case couldn't get any worse, the mother of one of the victims from Maryville has gone on the record saying that other girls have come forward with similar allegations against the same group of boys who allegedly raped her daughter. According to her statement, the girls who made complaints to the police were told that they were lying and just trying to ruin the lives of "poor innocent boys."
You have to commend the strong mothers and daughters of Missouri for coming forward to publicly describe an ordeal that most of us could never even begin to comprehend. After Paige Parkhurst, one of the girls who was allegedly raped, and her mother gave an interview to Al Jazeera, it was Melinda Coleman and her daughter Daisy's turn. Together, they answered the difficult questions that have helped Americans understand what happened the night Wendy and Paige were allegedly raped by two football players.
During the CNN interview, Melinda takes us through the morning where she found her daughter lying on her lawn without shoes or socks in freezing weather. She knew something was very wrong. When she tried to give Daisy a warm bath, and noticed signs of sexual assault, she immediately called 911.
It's at the end of the interview, after Daisy explains that she was bullied, threatened and basically driven out of the town, that Melinda reveals a startling, yet unsurprising, fact about the case. The mom says that she has spoken to a number of girls who have confessed that the "same thing happened with the same group of boys." Not only that, but she recorded the sheriff saying that these girls were "all liars and that they just wanted to crucify those poor innocent boys."
After being fired from her job and forced to move before seeing her house mysteriously burn to the ground, the mother could not contain her desperation. "What is going to take for them to do something here? Is one of these girls gonna to have to die?" she said.
Watch the entire interview below.
Almost one year after the alleged assault took place, the prosecution has finally accepted to re-open the case, in part because of a media firestorm and the intervention of activist group Anonymous. Many speculate that the original charges of sexual assault were dropped because the alleged rapist is the son of a prominent Missouri representative. The sheriff maintains that the case came to a halt simply because the family refused to cooperate, allegations that the Coleman family vehemently denies.
Although it's encouraging the prosecution is finally interested in opening up the case, why was it abandoned in the first place? Why was the burden of proof so high when these girls came forward with these claims? Why did the police need to wait for 10 more girls to be involved before they paid attention? This culture of impunity for rapists doesn't keep anyone safe; it enables offenders to become serial offenders.
It is unfortunately common for women and girls to be called liars when they make formal complaints about sexual assault. It happened to Jane Doe in Steunbenville. It lead to Rateah Parsons' suicide in Halifax. Now, it's happened to potentially a dozen girls in Maryville. What next?
It is deeply disturbing that this case was mysteriously dropped. It will be an even bigger tragedy if the culture of impunity in Maryville enabled these boys to become serial rapists in their community. As Jessica Valenti explained in her essay in The Nation today, "Too many people are making America a very comfortable place for rapists." When a woman is assumed to be a liar the minute she makes a rape complaint, the burden of proof becomes impossibly high. Why is a woman's word not enough? More importantly, why do we need to wait for a dozen girls to come forward before we start taking them seriously?
There are many forces making the world unsafe for rape victims, but when some of them emanate from the justice system, the institution that's supposed to protect women and girls, the consequences are exponentially worse. Who will protect us if no one believes us?
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