Daisy Coleman, a sex crime victim-turned advocate who garnered small-town backlash when she spoke out about her alleged attack, has died by suicide.
Coleman’s mother Melinda posted about the death of her daughter on Facebook, writing that police found her body after she requested a welfare check on Saturday night. “She was my best friend and amazing daughter,” she wrote in her post, adding, “My baby girl is gone.”
Coleman alleged she was raped at a party in Maryville, Missouri in 2012, when she was just 14 years old; another boy recorded the encounter on his phone. For hours following the attack, she was left outside in just a T-shirt in freezing temperatures. Her alleged assailant, then-19-year-old Matthew Barnett, the grandson of a former Republican state representative, was arrested and charged with felony sexual assault, which was later dropped and led to a lesser, misdemeanor charge of endangerment of a minor. He was ultimately sentenced to four months in jail, which was commuted to just two years probation, and was forced to pay $1,800 to Coleman in restitution.
“To all those who supported me, I promise that what happened on January 8th, 2012, will not define me forever,” Coleman said after Barnett entered his guilty plea in 2014.