Former Student Accused Of Raping Daisy Coleman Speaks For The First Time Since The Tragic Suicides Of Her And Her Mother
Updated December 15, 2020.
This story is about suicide. If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741, or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for further help.
In 2016, Netflix debuted the heartwrenching documentary Audrie & Daisy a film that examined the tragic experiences of two high school students. Audrie Pott and Daisy Coleman were two teens at the time of their sexual assaults. Both women were subjected to cyberbullying and abuse after their assaults and forced to heal with little support. But soon after her assault, Audrie Pott was driven to suicide by hanging.
The film showed that Coleman also struggled with suicide ideation after the assault.
Four years after the film’s debut, Coleman (who had become a sexual assault victim advocate) died by suicide.
In a post to her Facebook page in August, Coleman’s mother, Melinda, shared the news: “My daughter Catherine Daisy Coleman committed suicide tonight,” Melinda Coleman wrote. “If you saw crazy messages and posts it was because I called the police to check on her. She was my best friend and amazing daughter. I think she had to make it seem like I could live without her. I can’t. I wish I could have taken the pain from her! She never recovered from what those boys did to her and it’s just not fair. My baby girl is gone.”
Matthew Barnett, 26, who was accused of raping Daisy at a party in 2012 served only four months in jail for dumping Coleman – then 14 – on her mother’s porch in freezing temperatures.
According to DailyMail, Barnett has had the gross fortune of moving on from the ordeal. He has a new girlfriend and a $55,000-a-year job as a project manager for an industrial roofing firm called Delta Innovative Services.
Barnett has never spoken to media outlets about Daisy’s rape allegations or what happened at the party years ago. But after Daily Mail found him living in a Kansas City suburb last week he broke his silence. According to Daily Mail, after being asked about how he felt about the suicides of Coleman and her mother Barnett replied “I don’t really have any comment. It’s just very sad.”
“Barnett said that although he is ‘good’, he has found the experience of being accused of rape difficulty,” according to DailyMail.com and he replied “‘I still struggle with it but I’m okay.'”
In early December Melinda Coleman also died by suicide, according to an organization her daughter co-founded.
According to reports, the heartbroken mother posted about feeling defeated in the weeks before her suicide and after her daughter’s death.
“Albany wins. I’m dead,” Coleman wrote on Facebook on Nov. 18. The comment seemingly referred to the Missouri city that the Coleman family moved to after Daisy endured bullying for coming forward with her rape allegations.
Later on December 5, Melinda Coleman further spoke of her daughter’s suicide writing “4 mos ago today my baby girl left this world with a broken heart and spirit. Out of hope and full of despair. She took all her pain and worked to help others. Many used her and stilll are stealing her pictures and quotes simply for their own gain. The narssacists and users that have nothing to say so they steal her. The line became very blurred on some “friends”, others truly loved her. More than she could see in that terrrible moment. All she could see was the continued harrassment and cruelty and the damage sustained to her poor little body. I’d like to challenge everyone to be kind and lift up others in pain, especially sexual assault survivors and those hopeless in this holiday season. Send out light and love and protect each other and I will protect and pray for anyone who needs it. Let’s make this a Daisy Day filled with light, hope and love. Let’s work toward a justice system that stops failing the victims of rape. Let’s fill today with Daisys light and love!”
Daisy Coleman co-founded, SafeBAE (a survivor-founded and student-led national organization working to combat sexual assault among middle and high school students) announced Melinda Coleman’s death on its Instagram page.
“We are in shock and disbelief to share with our SafeBAE family, that we lost Melinda Coleman to suicide,” the SafeBAE Instagram post wrote and went on to explain that Melinda lost her husband father in a car accident when Daisy was a child, her son, Tristan from a car accident in Kansas in 2018.
At the time of her assault, Coleman was 14 years old. She was sexually assaulted by a high schooler named Matthew Barnett and was dumped outside of her home wearing only a T-shirt in the dead of winter. The documentary film said Coleman had been left behind in sub-freezing temperatures and that her hair had stuck to the ground.
Barnett was eventually subjected to a felony sexual assault charge for what he did to Coleman but the charge was later dropped.
After, Coleman became a target for bullying.
Filmmakers followed Coleman for two years watching the ways in which Coleman and members of her family were subjected to the trauma of her assault.
“I definitely feel like people have certain views and perceptions about me and about cases like this because they’re uneducated,” then-19-year-old Coleman told People in a 2017 interview. “That’s exactly why I’m going out and trying to educate people on what’s going on in our society.”
Speaking about her experience, Coleman said that she didn’t hold any animosity against her attacker. “I honestly don’t have any vindictive feelings toward him,” Coleman told People. “I feel like all of that negativity that he put onto me was passed down to him at one point, so I felt the need to stop that kind of transaction of negativity and hate… I went through a lot of years of self-loathing and asking myself, Why me? So much ‘woe is me’… I just decided one day that I was done being negative about it. I needed to forgive myself for what happened.”
In 2017, Coleman worked to help others from being subjected to sexual violence for the national campaign SafeBAE — Safe Before Anyone Else.
If you or someone you know might be considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Or text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.
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