In January 2012, 14-year-old Daisy Coleman accused a popular 17-year-old football player of raping her. The judge threw it out due to lack of evidence. Her family has since been driven from their small Missouri town, where they were bullied online and in real life, mom lost her job, and somehow their house mysteriously burned to the ground.
Holy moly. It’s difficult in he said, she said scenarios to know what’s what, but here’s what we know. Daisy told the police that the boy invited her to a party, where she got so drunk she couldn’t stand. The boy allegedly had sex with her while his friend filmed it. Daisy’s mother found her passed out on their porch several hours later -- in 22-degree weather with no coat, socks, or shoes. Her hair was frozen and she had frostbite on her hands and feet.
After the case went public, backlash was swift and vitriolic. Classmates posted on social media that she was “asking for it” at the party, and “F*** yea. That’s what you get for bein a skank. : )” Her brothers were booed on the field, and the family was warned that the boys were going to be beaten up in the high school parking lot.
Daisy’s mother Melinda, a veterinarian, lost her job, saying that her boss said the case had become too contentious. Veterinarian Sally Hayse said, “This is a small community, and it definitely was stressful for us here, without a doubt ... If you were to ask me point-blank [why Mrs Coleman was fired], I would say it’s because our style of medicine didn’t jive.”
The Colemans had moved to rural Maryville in 2006 after Mr. Coleman died in a car accident. Mom Melinda Coleman wanted to give the family a fresh start. Then suddenly they had to leave. Melinda said, “Basically I was terrified, I wanted to protect my children, I wanted to get them out of there.”
Eight months after they left, the house they were still trying to sell burned down, and they suspect arson could be involved. “One [sic] one hand, it would almost be a comfort to think it was an electrical problem that caused the fire, but on the other hand, there’s a part of me that really thinks that the fire could be part of all this,” Mrs. Coleman said.
What a sad, sad situation! Obviously something fishy went down at that party for Daisy to end up frozen on the front porch. Mrs. Coleman says her daughter has suffered twice -- once from the alleged rape and again from the online bullying. She tried to kill herself twice over the whole thing.
Daisy is now 16 and apparently recovering after intensive therapy. “She had a really hard time. She went through a period, a really dark time. She did the self-mutilation and the anger,” Mrs. Coleman said. “So much of being told it was her fault ... it really does seem like it’s your fault when people keep saying it over and over again.”
Do you think Daisy and her family deserved the online abuse -- regardless of what happened that night?
Image via John Lund/Corbis