What’s going on in Maryville?

In Maryville, Missouri, a 14-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a high school senior from a well-connected family. She and a 13-year-old friend snuck out to go to a party with some senior boys, mostly popular football players. They gave her alcohol until she blacked out, and one of them had sex with her. Photos were taken. Then they left her on her doorstep in the winter cold, where she nearly froze to death. Sexual assault, sexual exploitation and endangerment charges were all brought. Then they were dropped. The girl’s family was essentially run out of town, and their house eventually burned down. The entire story is horrific, and the Kansas City Star offers a great piece of in-depth reporting here.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
This entry was posted in Crime, Law, Rape Culture, Sexual Assault and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to What’s going on in Maryville?

  1. MH says:

    (So nice to see a newspaper doing actual investigation and real journalism)

    As a person, a woman, and a (transplanted/new) Missourian, I am truly horrified and embarrassed. I really hope that public pressure builds to force a prosecution.

  2. GallingGalla says:

    This case is horrifying and disgusting. Anybody who believes rape culture doesn’t exist ought to be pointed to this article.

  3. EmbraceYourInnerCrone says:

    Its a good article, but the hesitation of the writer to actively call a rape a rape is disturbing. Even in the title in the Kansas City Star article, “sexual encounter”? Really?!?

    Those boys gave alcohol to a 13 year old and a 14 year old and raped them. ..and took photos. And apparently the prosecutors in that area of Kansas are OK with that, since someone got them to drop the charges.

    Although the 13 year old said no multiple times, the boy “put a condom on and had sex with her” NO he raped her…

    And the rapists went on to college and will probably do it again.

    Sorry if I am getting shouty, I think I need to stop reading these accounts for a while…

    • Andie says:

      Far be it from me to defend this, as I found the article’s lack of calling a duck a duck quite disturbing and rage-making myself, but I wonder if there is a legality that requires them to refrain from referring to rape since the charges were dropped?

      • Hugh says:

        It does, but usually they would go with ‘alleged rape’ and their legal bases would be covered.

      • Willemina says:

        Getting sued for defamation would come to mind.

      • Jill says:

        Right. It’s a legal issue, and the newspaper has to protect itself and its writers. In this context, “rape” and “sexual assault” are legal terms. The editors were surely trying to cover their legal bases.

        I’d also guess that the writer and editors are trying to be as accurate and descriptive as possible. The Stuebenville case, for example, suffered from a lot of misinformation about what happened because of varying understandings of the word “rape.” One of the defendants in that case was convicted of rape , but that led a lot of people to believe that he penetrated the victim with his penis; when it was stated that he penetrated her with his fingers, the reaction from a lot of folks was, “Well that’s not really rape!” Which is wrong, of course — you don’t need a penis to rape. But when you’re describing a crime it does make sense to include a basic level of detail, and sometimes the most effective way is to say something like, “he put on a condom and then had sex with her.” It’s not perfect and I would have done it differently, but I see why it was written that way.

  4. Courtney says:

    It’s even more disturbing to me that the writers/editors at Feministe are making the same conflation between rape and sex. I expect it from the mainstream media. I expect better from feminist bloggers in the process of calling out rape culture.

    From the Feministe description of the article:
    “They gave her alcohol until she blacked out, and one of them had sex with her.”

    No, no no! When you incapacitate someone with alcohol and then perform sex acts on them, that is RAPE.

    • Fat Steve says:

      It’s even more disturbing to me that the writers/editors at Feministe are making the same conflation between rape and sex. I expect it from the mainstream media. I expect better from feminist bloggers in the process of calling out rape culture.

      From the Feministe description of the article:
      “They gave her alcohol until she blacked out, and one of them had sex with her.”

      No, no no! When you incapacitate someone with alcohol and then perform sex acts on them, that is RAPE..

      I don’t think the OP conflates rape and consensual sex at all. That’s an absurd charge. You just said yourself that rape involves the performing of sex acts.

    • Fat Steve says:

      When I first read Courtney’s comment, I thought it was obvious trolling, hence my response. But her comment actually made me think that there could be a better way of phrasing that sentence. The guy didn’t have sex WITH her, he performed sex acts AGAINST her will.

      …I just wanted to update my previous comment, don’t want this to turn into a derail.

      • Anon21 says:

        Perhaps that’s the issue, although there are also people in feminist circles who oppose the use of the term “sex” to apply to any nonconsensual act, as though that would somehow be dignifying the crime. I don’t think that’s right; “sex” is not some kind of essentially wonderful thing such that bad things are definitionally not-sex. I also don’t think it’s some kind of widely agreed-upon tent of feminism, such that the only way one could refer to a nonconsensual act as sexual is through ignorance or insufficient devotion to feminism.

      • Courtney says:

        I wasn’t objecting to the use of the word sex by itself. I was objecting to the phrase “have/had sex with.” That implies a mutual action and suggests consent. It’s a usage that helps prop up the rape culture and promotes victim blaming. It’s a short step from “he had sex with her while she was drunk” to “she probably wanted it anyway.”

      • Courtney says:

        That was exactly my point…the phrase “have sex WITH” is incredibly different from performing sex acts on someone who is passed out drunk or someone who is saying no. That usage happens all the time in mainstream media, and it (rightly) gets called out on feminist blogs all of the time. I am disgusted when I see that usage in mainstream media, but not surprised. I was surprised and disappointed to see that usage here.

  5. upyernoz says:

    Anonymous has taken up the matter and is now threatening the town with some unspecified action unless it investigates how local authorities handled the case.

    • Asia says:

      Anonymous is really a positive force of good when it comes to social accountability.

      Especially, since this town allowed a families social power to interfere in a criminal case. As well as the lack of support given to the victim and her family. This seems to be a pattern for small towns whenever the rapist/his family has more social power due to football and/or politics the local community does a horrible job supporting the victim.

      • Little Raven says:

        I don’t know about that. Anonymous is a high-tech lynch mob. Sure, their actions are often satisfying on a certain level, but there’s a reason we moved away from lynching as a society.

      • Evan Carden says:

        They’re really not. One of the main ways you can tell this is that they haven’t killed anyone.

      • tigtog says:

        Seconding Evan. Do not trivialise actual killings by using the words “lynch-mob” to describe collective actions where nobody dies.

        The only reason the rapists in Steubenville suffered any judicial consequences at all was that Anonymous sifted through publicly available information and collated it until it built a case that could no longer be shoved under the rug. That Steubenville is still smarting over becoming world-wide news because some outsiders actually broke through the code of silence about these things and told people that wrongdoings were going unpunished could have been totally avoided by the authorities in Steubenville ensuring that such wrongdoings never went unpunished in the first place.

        Anonymous is an anarchic unorganisation whose members sometimes do shitty stuff and sometimes do awesome stuff and mostly just muck about doing stuff-stuff. When a sufficient number of members engage in collectively harnessing their combined processing power to unearth corrupt exercises of power/authority and push this information out so widely that it can simply not be ignored? Then that’s when they’re doing awesome stuff.

      • Aside from Evan and Tigtog’s excellent points…

        we moved away from lynching as a society

        …that happened? Yay!! I didn’t notice it this morning, but hey, I guess shit can go down during a four-hour school day…

      • ldouglas says:

        Anonymous is an anarchic unorganisation whose members sometimes do shitty stuff and sometimes do awesome stuff and mostly just muck about doing stuff-stuff. When a sufficient number of members engage in collectively harnessing their combined processing power to unearth corrupt exercises of power/authority and push this information out so widely that it can simply not be ignored? Then that’s when they’re doing awesome stuff.

        Perfectly said.

      • Sharon M says:

        Seconding Evan. Do not trivialise actual killings by using the words “lynch-mob” to describe collective actions where nobody dies.

        This^^^^^^ FWIW, the term “Drinking the Kool-Aid ” needs to be called out. The murder of 900+ humans, including 300 children and babies is behind that term.

      • moviemaedchen says:

        Seconding Evan. Do not trivialise actual killings by using the words “lynch-mob” to describe collective actions where nobody dies.

        we moved away from lynching as a society

        …that happened? Yay!! I didn’t notice it this morning, but hey, I guess shit can go down during a four-hour school day…

        All of this.

  6. PrettyAmiable says:

    This might be my computer, but I’m having trouble opening the link. Anyone else? Does anyone know another site where I can find the story?

  7. Marksman2010 says:

    The fact that the county prosecutor dropped the felony cases against the youths, and one of them was the grandson of a longtime local political figure says it all.

    This is what they call “The Good Ole Boys’ Club” in the South. This stuff isn’t funny, it’s real. People get cheated and hurt because of it. And it makes me want to carry out my own justice sometimes.

    • Felicity says:

      It isn’t just the South: the Haidl case, after all, had a similar element of entrenched local power systems protecting the perpetrators. That was Orange County, California.

  8. someGuy says:

    Wow. This is absolutely infuriating. What a perfect example of rape culture. Nearly every quote from the residents of Maryville is some vulgar victim-blaming garbage. It would be a good first step if these young men saw jail time, but it’s hard to imagine any prison time will fix the damage they did to the young woman. Absolutely disgusted.

    • moviemaedchen says:

      Word. I want to add something, but all I’ve got is 2,000 words of unbroken profanity. That people have to keep trying to excuse what those guys did is just fucking inexcusable.

  9. Elly says:

    It looks like the case may be reopened.

    A prosecutor in Missouri who’s faced intense criticism over his handling of a case involving a 14-year-old girl who says she was raped by a 17-year-old acquaintance says he wants a special prosecutor to decide if new charges should be filed.

    Nodaway County prosecutor Robert Rice announced Wednesday that he’s asking a judge to appoint a special prosecutor in the case.

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