Defense attorney Joseph DiBenedetto, appearing on the Fox News program Shepard Smith Reporting, questions the testimony of a Maryville, Missouri, teen who claims she was raped last year. (Courtesy of Fox News)
For several days, following a bombshell article in The Kansas City Star, the national media—with CNN this time in the forefront—have offered generally sympathethic coverage of the two teenage victims in the Maryville, Missouri, rape case (see my earlier posts and previous Nation piece).
The KC Star piece and activism centered on social media have produced, out of nowhere, a welcome result: The local prosecutor, who had dropped the charges, reversed course in a matter of days and now joins the state’s lieutenant governor in calling for a special prosecutor.
Now the girl at the center of the case, Dasiy Coleman, who was 14 when the sexual assaults took place last year, has penned her own harrowing first-person account of the night in question and brutal aftermath. I’ll get to that below, but first, a sobering reminder of the issues at play: A defense attorney named Joseph DiBenedetto appeared on Fox News yesterday and essentially blamed the two girls, claiming they were virtually asking for it when they joined the two older boys and let them ply them with alcohol.
He even uttered this classic line about Daisy Coleman (who he thinks may be lying about the night): “I’m not saying she deserved to be raped,” indicating that even he knew that viewers might recognize that actually this was what he might be saying between the lines.
“She is leaving her home at 1 am in the morning and nobody forced her to drink.… what did she expect to happen at 1 am after sneaking out?” he asked. Then she probably “took the easy way out” and claimed to her mom that she’d been raped.
The attorney’s claim that “this case is going nowhere” has already been proven wrong.
Shep Smith, to his credit (after for some reason giving this clown four minutes of face time), did respond, in closing, “What you’ve done, Joseph, is taken an alleged victim of rape and turned her into a liar and a crime committer.”
Now to Daisy Coleman’s moving piece today. Read the whole thing here. It goes through the night of the assault, and the sad destruction of her life afterward, including two suicide attempts and much “cutting.”
Days seemed to drag on as I watched my brother get bullied and my mom lose her job. Ultimately our house burned to the ground. I couldn’t go out in public, let alone school. I sat alone in my room, most days, pondering the worth of my life. I quit praying because if God were real, why would he do this? I was suspended from the cheerleading squad and people told me that I was ‘asking for it’ and would ‘get what was coming.’
She does in the end hail her four brothers for not acting like typical young males—as they stand behind girls, and do not “prey” on them.
Jessica Valenti parses the issues stirred up by the Maryville and Steubenville rape cases.