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The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

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Coleman rape case illustrates pervasive rape culture


Daisy Coleman of Maryville, Mo. was sexually assaulted on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 after ingesting alcohol with a younger friend. Coleman, then 14 years old, and her friend, then 13, both engaged in sexual activity with older boys who were on the town’s high school football team who claim it was consensual. Coleman remembers almost nothing after drinking two full cups of clear liquid that the boys handed her. Her friend only remembers flashes of insight into what happened that night. Despite the fact that parts of it were caught on tape and that “felony statutes also define sex as non-consensual when the victim is incapacitated by alcohol,” the case was dropped and all evidence sealed, for a supposed “lack of evidence.” The core of this issue is that rape culture still exists in our world, and cases like these are just the tip of the iceberg.

Robert Rice, the Nodaway County prosecutor who dealt with the case, later called it one of “‘incorrigible teenagers’ drinking alcohol and having sex. They were doing what they wanted to do, and there weren’t any consequences. And it’s reprehensible. But is it criminal? No.’”


Coleman’s mother found Daisy on their porch in 22-degree weather the next day still incoherent after the boys dropped her there in the early morning hours with her friend. Her mother went to put her in a warm bath and noticed signs of distress and possible rape, and immediately took her to the hospital. The doctor confirmed the mother’s concerns with a physical examination. Despite such evidence, as well as a rape kit, sheets and clothing taken from the crime scene, the case remained sealed.

An online activist group called “Anonymous” plans to launch a “Twitter storm,” according to NBC News, where they will protest the dropping of the charges against the two boys. Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder is asking Rice and Attorney General Chris Koster to accompany him in asking for a review of the case. Rice told a news conference that he asked the court to appoint a special prosecutor to look at the facts and then decide if they should refile charges or not. The very least that the family deserves is a re-examination of the facts, especially after the personal threats they have received in response to the case, not to mentioned being harassed so greatly that they had to move.

“We have seen Daisy’s story all too often,” said Anonymous, and frankly, rape culture still exists very prominently. Why is this still happening? What will it take to change this attitude?

A Georgia Tech Phi Kappa Tao member wrote an email to the other members in his chapter, according to Dead Spin, with colorful guidelines on how to hook up with girls, including two of the “7 E’s of Hooking Up:” “Escalate (ask them to dance, or ask them to go up to your room or find a couch, depending on what kind of party)” and “Expunge (send them out of your room and on their way out when you are finished).” Other vivid descriptions and instructions can be found in the letter, telling the male members how to use their hands and arms to grab the girl’s waist and control her while they’re dancing to maximize their pleasure.

The New York Times reported that a government survey conducted in December of 2011 affirmed that one in five women in the U.S. have been sexually assaulted. That number is most likely actually higher because most women are scared to report that they have, in fact, been sexually assaulted. Via Time, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that “ Every minute, 24 Americans suffer sexual or intimate-partner violence.”

Besides the most obvious issues with all of these above statistics and examples, is the fact that this isn’t something that happened and disappeared. This is recent. This is happening. Right now.

Empowering women to stand up for themselves is not enough. Victims of rape are too terrified to say what happened in fear of being hurt again, so rapists are not being sent to jail. The behavior change cannot be demanded of victims; it has to come from men and sexual assault perpetrators. Men shouldn’t think that just because it has been done, it is commonplace enough to be excusable on any level. The dismissal of the charges against these two young boys is doing everything to perpetuate a rape culture that has already existed for years, one that we have tried to break down for just as long. As many people would say, no means no, just as much as intoxicated means no and crying means no, all of which were in some way involved in this case.

If officials in this case aim to do any justice, they can at least start with reopening the charges. It shouldn’t take groups like Anonymous and other investigative journalists to get to the truth in these situations. While they help, behavior needs to change and change soon, because cases like these do nothing but normalize and excuse rape.

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  • AnonymousSep 30, 2019 at 7:50 pm


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Coleman rape case illustrates pervasive rape culture