NGSC Sports

Football Fabulosa – The Maryville, Missouri Rape Case; When Hero Worship Fosters Monsters

In case you missed it, there is another up and coming “Steubenville” controversial rape prosecution case brewing on the horizon involving a relatively small town and local high school athletes. If you are unfamiliar with the Steubenville case here is a very good summary of the coverage from Deadspin who did a very good job cataloging the case. The most recent case contains details just as horrifying. The Steubenville case is hardly isolated as the recent Vanderbilt University case has shown.

The most recent case occurred in Maryville, Missouri which is a city with a population of 12,000. Despite it’s size, it retains a small town flavor. On January 8, 2012, sometime past midnight, two young girls, one 14 years old and one 13 years old, were raped by high school athletes who plied the young girls with alcohol. Despite overwhelming evidence, including videotape that mysteriously disappeared, the local prosecutor declined to prosecute the case.

One of the worst details, if there can be anything worse than rape, occurred in the aftermath when the young boys drove the girls back home. The 14 year old was barely conscious and had to be carried to the car. It is undisputed that she was crying. Upon their arrival at the girls’ house, the boys told the 13 year old to go inside and that they would watch over her while she sobered up. Instead, they dumped her clad only in sweatpants and a tee-shirt, and her belongings, out on the front yard in 22 degree weather and drove off. Her mother would find her on the front porch the next morning with her hair frozen solid.

After the investigation was concluded, the local Sheriff, Darren White, felt confident in the case and that it would result in prosecutions. White also made a very telling quote:

“We’re very lucky,” the sheriff told the newspaper in nearby St. Joseph. “It was very cold, in the 30s, and people die laying out in the cold like that.”

The case was turned over the the local District Attorney, Robert Rice, and a variety of charges were brought against the young men. Both young men admitted to having sexual intercourse with the young girls and that both had been drinking. Matthew Barnett, a linebacker for the local powerhouse football team, was charged with sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child. Some 7 plus hours after the assault, the 14 year old’s blood alcohol content was still .13%. The boys also admitted to leaving the 14 year old victim out in 30 degree weather.

The teen who admitted to sexual itnercourse with the 13 year old had his case sent to juvenile court. He admitted during interrogation that the 13 year old victim had been drinking but had still said “no” multiple times. Despite her objections, he undressed her, put on a condom, and had sexual intercourse with her. The two returned to the room where the events began to transpire, and the 13 year old was able to see her friend carried from the room where her rape took place.

According to her 13 year old friend, she was unable to speak in a coherent fashion and was crying as she was carried to the car. Parts of the sexual assault were caught on an Iphone camera by Jordan Zech, all state linebacker and a wrestler for the school. He was charged with sexual exploitation of a minor. Despite multiple evidence of the video being passed around it was never recovered.

After her mother found signs of trauma on her daughter’s gentalia that morning, and with her daughter crying while tellling her it hurt, the 14 year old was taken to the local hospital where a rape examination was conducted. The medical report revealed small vaginal tears that indicated sexual penetration. The 13 year old likewise was examined at the local hospital.

Despite all this evidence, the local prosecutor dropped all the charges amid rumors of political coercion and influence. Barnett came from a well connected and influential local family. As is true in most smaller communities, the majority of the local residents are connected in one way or another. Also like many small communities, athletics and in particular football rule. Maryville is home to both a high school powerhouse as well as Northwest Missouri State University with it’s Division II football program. Neither victims grew up in Maryville and none had local ties. Amidst public backlash over his handling of the case, he has now requested a special prosecutor be appointed. No word on whether someone from outside the community will be considered.

In the aftermath of this tragedy, the victims received threats as victims always do. The mother of the 14 year old was fired from her job. The 14 year old victim was suspended from the cheer-leading team. Her brother, also a wrestler for the local high school team, was booed at home games. He was also the target of derogatory comments about both his mother and his sister, including that his sister had been asking for it.

Hero worship carries with it the inherent danger of fostering monsters and this case is no different from any other in that regard. It did spawn monsters or in any case revealed them and now we reach the point of this article as this case did indeed. No, I’m not talking about these young men who from all appearances are monsters. No decent human being would deposit a semi conscious poorly clad young girl to freeze to death in the front yard of her home while tossing her belongings out as well. Monsters do that for sure.

No, who I am talking about here are those who harassed the victims and their parents to the point where the 14 year old tried to commit suicide. Twice. There were those who actually encouraged her via twitter and facebook to do so. If so they are monsters. A parent of one of the young boys involved had the gall to say these young men involved deserved an apology. It’s not difficult to see where  these young men may have gotten their behavior.

Need more evidence of monstrous behavior? At a dance competition where the 14 year old victim competed following these events, another young girl from her school is alleged to have arrived in a home made shirt lettered on the front with her thoughts. Support for the victim? Not hardly:

Matt 1, Daisy 0

Ultimately, the 14 year old victim and her family were forced to move. Or, as Sheriff White would say they “went back to Gentry County, where they came from.”  Everyone tried to move on but the family of the 14 year old victim still owned a home in Maryville they were trying to sell. At least until last April when the house burned down under suspicious circumstances. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

As for the young men two are now enrolled at Northwest Missouri State University and part of the athletic program. As for Barnett, he is enrolled at the University of Central Missouri where his prominent grandfather went to school. He seems to be doing fine. According to the Dugan Annett article from the Kansas City Star  that it heavily used here, he recently sent out this 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.”

Editor’s Note:

You can track the Maryville case as it progresses here.

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