In our society, rape victims are supposed to be protected, shielded by anonymity. But Daisy Coleman is a name that's now known across the globe. We now know that after the then 14-year-old and a 13-year-old friend accused two 17-year-old high school football players of rape, the Coleman family was driven out of Maryville, Missouri on a rail. And now her bravery in outing herself as a victim of rape may be paying off. High-ranking officials have joined the cry to have the abandoned case against Daisy's alleged rapists re-opened, AND Daisy's fellow victim, who we now know is named Paige Parkhurst, has decided to out herself in the name of justice!
Finally! This case could go somewhere.
But did it really have to take two young rape victims opening themselves up to criticism to make it happen?
Paige Parkhurst was only 13 years old when she says she and her best friend were sexually assaulted back in January 2012. In the wake of the outcry that Daisy Coleman's coming forward has generated, Paige told Al Jazeera America that she found the courage to come forward as well. Paige says she cooperated fully with the authorities back then, despite Prosecutor Robert Rice's assertion that he dropped the case because the complainants had stopped cooperating. It was only after the felony charges against the two 17-year-olds were dropped that Paige says a rape advocate told her to walk away from a prosecutor's office she accuses of attacking the victims:
They were constantly putting us down. They were telling a lot of people a lot of things that weren’t true. They were telling Daisy that I was throwing her under the bus, and then telling me that Daisy was throwing me under the buss. I mean they were working really hard to try to get us angry at each other.
Paige says she's speaking out, she's coming out from behind the veil of anonymity offered to victims, because she wants justice. And she isn't the only one. Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder released a statement last night, demanding Rice re-open the case:
Since Sunday I have read with growing dismay the media accounts of the Daisy Coleman case in Nodaway County. I make no claim to knowledge of all the facts. Still, facts revealed in exhaustive media reports, including the 4,000-word piece in the Kansas City Star, raise all kinds of questions that it is now clear won’t be put to rest. These questions will fester and taint the reputation of our state for delivering impartial justice to all.
Bravo to Kinder for pushing for justice for these kids. Too bad it came to this.
Once again, I have to ask: should it really take two young rape victims putting their names out there, their stories out there, for them to get justice? These are two young girls who have already dealt with the injustice of being raped. And now this?
In truth, as a journalist for the past decade and a half, even typing the girls' names is unsettling. It's rare that I'll include a victim's name because, by its very nature, rape is a crime that stigmatizes its victims, that is extremely personal in its trauma. The public right to know does not supersede a victim's right to heal.
Everywhere these girls turn, they are denied their basic rights to just be normal teenage girls, and yet, bravely, they charge ahead. It's time for the grown men in this case, the people in the prosecutor's office, to do the same.
What do you think the prosecutor should do?
Image via Corbis