The teenager who was accused of raping a younger classmate and dumping her outside of her house in Maryville, Mo. in 2012 will not face sexual assault charges, a prosecutor announced Thursday.
Matthew Barnett, 19, made a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to one misdemeanour charge of child endangerment, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said at a press conference.
He will serve two years of probation, do 100 hours of community service, and pay restitution of $US1,800 to the victim’s family. Barnett has also been ordered to apologise to his victim.
The charge relates to Barnett allegedly leaving Daisy Coleman, who was 14 years old at the time, semi-conscious and out in the cold in her yard after she attended a party with him, but does not relate to Daisy’s alleged rape, The Kansas City Star reports.
Baker said there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Barnett of rape.
“Our system of justice works because it is evidence-based,” she said. “I trust this system, I believe in this system. It is not always a system in which we can triumph the outcome.”
There was allegedly a video being passed around that showed Daisy and a 13-year-old friend being sexually assaulted at a party, but Baker said she was unsuccessful in obtaining it.
Daisy’s family left Maryville after the town turned on them when Daisy decided to pursue sex assault charges against Barnett, according to what they told The Kansas City Star in October. Barnett was a popular player on the high school football team.
Once the case got national attention, hacking collective Anonymous stepped in and promised to help, launching a cyber campaign to raise awareness about the case and pressuring prosecutors to launch an investigation.
Nodaway County prosecutor Robert Rice initially dropped felony charges against Barnett, but the case was reopened in October.
Daisy, now 16, was hospitalized after she attempted suicide last weekend.
She released this statement that was read at the press conference Thursday:
“I want to thank everyone who supported me and my family during the past two years. … Today I am grateful that the defendant took responsibility by pleading guilty to the charges. I am ready to move forward.”
Although prosecutors weren’t successful at obtaining a felony conviction, Baker said the system still worked.
“Today, Mr. Barnett was held accountable for his actions,” she said. “It is a conviction, it will remain on his record, and it will never go away.”
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