Daisy Coleman, the center of a famous and controversial rape case in Maryville, Mo., when she was 14, has started a website to educate young women about sexual assault, according to the Daily Mail.
She and childhood friend Paige Parkhurst, who also said she was raped that night in January 2012, have forgiven the boys involved, the Daily Mail reports.
Coleman and Parkhurst, who was then 13, accused boys in the town of sexually assaulting them during an alcohol-infused party at the home of a popular Maryville High football player. The case gained international attention after a seven-month investigation by The Kansas City Star.
Few disputed the basic facts of what happened in the early morning hours of Jan. 8, 2012: A high school senior had sex with Coleman, and another boy did the same with Parkhurst.
Never miss a local story.
Interviews and evidence initially supported the felony and misdemeanor charges that followed.
Yet, two months later, the Nodaway County prosecutor dropped the felony cases against the youths, including Matthew Barnett, the grandson of a longtime prominent local politician.
A 15-year-old boy admitted in juvenile court that he had sex with Parkhurst over her protests. He spent two weeks in the custody of state juvenile authorities.
In January 2014, Barnett pleaded guilty to a charge of misdemeanor child endangerment, not a felony sexual assault.
Coleman, 19, is now a sophomore at Missouri Valley College, according to the Daily Mail. She has started a website called SafeBAE.org with three female sexual assault survivors.
According to the mission statement posted on the group’s Facebook page, SafeBAE “is a student-focused, survivor-driven campaign whose mission is to raise awareness about sexual assault in middle and high schools.
“SafeBAE will focus on preventing dating violence and sexual assault by giving students the tools to change peer culture, end harassing re-victimization, and advocate for consent and safe relationship education.”
Coleman and her partners are touring high schools and colleges in the United States.
“After my case went viral I took a break for a while, but during that time period I noticed a lot of other victims and survivors had come forward,” Coleman told the Daily Mail.
“Seeing me doing it so publicly, I felt like that gave them a space to tell their own story and I was really inspired by that.”
Coleman said she was encouraged to strike out on her new mission after her involvement in the documentary “Audrie and Daisy.”
The film tells the stories of Coleman and Audrie Pott of Saratoga, Calif., who was 15 in 2012 when she was sexually assaulted.
Both young women endured months of public “blame-the-victim” scorn and cyberbullying after their cases became public.
Now streaming on Netflix, the film has been nominated for an Annie award for animation.
Instead of blurring out the faces of the accused, husband and wife filmmakers Jon Shenk and Bonni Cohen decided to animate them. Coleman, an art student, drew the illustrations.
“I want survivors and victims to know that they’re not alone in their endeavors,” Coleman told the Daily Mail.
“They don’t have to go on national television, they need only tell their family and if they don’t want to report it they are most definitely supported by an army of people standing beside them regardless.”
Parkhurst’s mother, Robin Parkhurst Bourland, told the British publication that her daughter is now living with her boyfriend in Albany, Mo., and has a 6-month-old daughter.
“It wasn’t the best thing to hear from my 17-year-old daughter that she was pregnant, but I think she’s been so good for her,” Bourland said.
“I can’t say what happened doesn’t have an impact on her and her relationship, but she has forgiven the boy who raped her, and she’s very supportive of everything that Daisy is doing, even though she chooses not to be so publicly vocal.”