Daisy Coleman — the 16-year-old Maryville, MO, girl who accused a neighborhood football player of raping her and leaving her out in the snow exactly two years and one day ago — will not see her rape allegation go to court, a prosecutor assigned to the case indicated Thursday. The only charge filed by a special prosecutor brought in for the case was a child endangerment misdemeanor charge for leaving the then-14-year-old on her front lawn in January of 2012 while she was drunk and unconscious. The accused, Matt Barnett, will plead guilty.
Coleman’s story became a flash point for national frustration over how rape allegations are handled when it first came to light in October. Her alleged rapist was not only a popular football player, but also the grandson of a prominent Missouri state senator — something Coleman, her mother, and many advocates for rape victims thought may have led to the slow investigation that was ultimately dropped by local police the first time around. Police, and the original prosecutor in the case, said it was dropped because of a lack of evidence, and because Coleman and her mother stopped cooperating.
After her story gained national attention thanks to an expose in the Kansas City Star, a new prosecutor was assigned to the case. Thursday, the public learned that prosecutor will not be pursuing a rape charge either. This does not mean that a rape never occurred. Rather, like the high-profile rape accusations against college quarterback Jameis Winston, it simply means the prosecutor could not find enough evidence to bring a rape charge.
“In this case there was insufficient evidence to go forward on a sexual assault charge,” the special prosecutor said in a press conference, saying that her team was unable to obtain a video of the incident that was rumored to be in circulation. “We don’t always like the outcome but it is evidence-based and therefore it works.”
Daisy’s mom told CBS that she was disappointed with the prosecutor’s decision, but, “Considering all the evidence that had been lost, destroyed, tampered with or returned… There wasn’t a lot she could do.”
In an emotional essay published in October, Coleman spoke openly about becoming emotionally unstable after her case was dropped. “Since this happened, I’ve been in hospitals too many times to count. I’ve found it impossible to love at times,” she wrote. “I’ve gained and lost friends. I no longer dance or compete in pageants. I’m different now, and I can’t ever go back to the person I once was. That one night took it all away from me. I’m nothing more than just human, but I also refuse to be a victim of cruelty any longer.”
Daisy Coleman attempted suicide on Tuesday. There is no confirmation that it had to do with the prosecutor’s decision not to try Barnett for rape, though the prosecutor did say they have been in talks about a plea deal for about a month. Coleman put out a statement that the prosecutor read during the press conference. It said, “I want to thank everyone who supported me and my family during these past two years… I am ready to move forward.”
This piece has been updated to reflect breaking news.