The school where Matthew Barnett, a University of Central Missouri student who allegedly raped a teenager last year, is facing an onslaught of criticism after reports surfaced that the girl’s family was forced to leave town due to harassment. An online campaign also appeared to yield results: Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder called for a grand jury to look at the case this week.
Barnett initially faced charges for the alleged rape of Daisy Coleman, who was 14 at the time, when she was drunk at a party, reported the Kansas City Star. The report then states that charges against him were dropped, and there is speculation that prosecutors may have felt pressure because his grandfather was former Republican Missouri state Representative Rex Barnett.
Barnett is currently at the University of Central Missouri, and with recent reports about the case, a number of people on social media sites have lashed out at the school and officials at the town of Maryville, Mo., where the Colemans used to live.
“@UCentralMO is violating policy requiring a safe learning environment for all by having a rapist on campus,” wrote Panayiota Bertzikis, the Executive Director of Military Rape Crisis Center, on Twitter.
“UCM is required to allow qualified/eligible students to pursue an education.We are committed to safety,” the school replied.
Hacker collective Anonymous also tweeted that it would take action against the alleged attacker. It published information about Barnett on the website Pastebin, according to the Huffington Post.
Lt. Gov. Kinder on Tuesday said that a grand jury will take a look at Coleman’s 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,” he said, according to the Missouri Torch.
He added: “I am disappointed that the Attorney General would wash his hands of the matter through a brief statement by a spokesman. The appalling facts in the public record shock the conscience and cry out that responsible authorities must take another look. I call on Attorney General Koster and Prosecutor Rice to join me in asking that the Circuit Court convene a grand jury to review all the evidence, hear all witnesses, and issue a decision as to whether charges should ensue.”
In the incident, Coleman told her mother that she was drunk when Barnett took advantage of her. Medical examiners at a local hospital said that Coleman showed signs of sexual activity.
Her mother, Melinda Coleman, said that her daughter was harassed by classmates and her sons also faced pressure. She said the family was forced to leave Maryville.