In August 2012 a high school female from Steubenville, Ohio was sexually assaulted by high school football players at a party. The event was recorded by several of her peers and posted to various social media websites. Additionally, many witnesses tweeted and posted about the event. However, the victim was met with much opposition because of the accused young men’s association with the wildly popular football team. This case became a very important and largely debated one.
In January 2012, Daisy Coleman living in Maryville, MO was sexually assaulted while drunk at a party and it was videotaped by her friend. At the time Daisy was 14. She was then left on her front porch in 22 degree weather. Her mother found her the next morning. (There are also allegations that Daisy’s 13 year old friend was also sexually assaulted, but details are less clear.) This town also reacted negatively towards the victim, and her mother claims she was fired from her job at a Veterinary clinic because of it. She later moved the family to Albany following a deep depression for Daisy and suicide attempt.
Both of these cases have a couple things in common; in fact they are eerily similar. Daisy’s case is now piquing national attention, especially through social media. Hash tags seem to be playing a big role in both supporting and working against Daisy. Those who oppose her are posting with #OpMaryville (operation Maryville) and those who defend her are using #Justice4Daisy. Also, when the case was dropped in March 2012, those who supported the young men posted with #jordanandmattarefree. While dropping the case, the court cited a lack of evidence. Hundreds of blogs and large profile writers are bringing attention to this case.
An article published in The Kansas City Star over the weekend has been receiving widespread attention. Dugan Arnett writes about the struggle of the Coleman family over the last year and a half; everything from the rape of Daisy, the repeated harassment of the town and eventually the mysterious fire that completely destroyed the house. The family had moved to Maryville following the death of the father.
The Kansas City Star article takes a definite stand in supporting Daisy Coleman. He reveals that even after Matt Barnett, the alleged offender admitted to having sex with a very drunk girl, three years younger than him, the case was dropped. Arnett concludes the article by noting that while Daisy has been struggling with depression and multiple suicide attempts, Barnett recently posted this re-tweet: “If her name begins with A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z, she wants the D.” To read the complete article, click here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/10/12/4549775/nightmare-in-maryville-teens-sexual.html
Anonymous, a collective of web-hackers, has been active in both cases as well. In the Maryville case, they are working to help bring ‘justice,’ by demanding an investigation and questioning why the case was thrown out last year. Many of the original tweets and even accounts have been deleted, but Anonymous has restored them and shared them with the public.
The alleged rapist is the grandson of Republican Missouri Representative Rex Barnett, and claims that he had no involvement with the case.
In a world of social media and instant updates, these cases are becoming exceptionally influential. It seems much easier to form an angry mob over the internet and bully very young girls who have been involved with some sort of sexual abuse, a step away from real face-to-face communication. Neither of these young women are crying wolf, because the evidence was recorded, uploaded and tweeted about. However, they are still met with brutality, cruelty and discord from their peers via social media outlets.
There is a very interesting article in The New Yorker, written by Ariel Levy that goes into detail about the way Steubenville was handled, by all parties. If you’d like to read Levy’s article, it is available here: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/08/05/130805fa_fact_levy