Dangers of teenage drinking are evident in Maryville case

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's been two years since a booze filled night among teens left Daisy Coleman unconscious in freezing temperatures outside her home. Now, 19-year-old Matthew Barnett will spend the next two years on probation.

Experts now speak out to warn of the dangers of teenage drinking and risky behavior.
As if parents aren't worried enough about what their teenagers are doing on weekend nights, new studies show drinking, starting at a young age, is more prevalent than ever.

"It's everywhere. You see it on TV. You hear it in music, so it's everywhere. I mean the thing we've got to realize is that the world's changed. Kids are growing up faster than ever before," said Gordon Stubblefield, Director of Prevention Services for First Call.

According to the CDC, a 2011 youth risk behavior survey found that nearly 40 percent of high school students drank some alcohol during the past 30 days and 22 percent binge drank.

"We could talk about the increase in violence. We could talk about the increase in risky sexual behaviors. We could talk about the increase in addiction," said Stubblefield.

In the case of Maryville teenagers Coleman and Barnett, in interviews with investigators, both admitted to drinking before and after meeting up.

Coleman told investigators while in Barnett's home, she drank vodka straight from the bottle before being challenged to drink more from a cup and then blacking out. Later at the hospital, court documents show that her recorded blood alcohol content as a .13. An adult is legally drunk at .08.

Barnett told investigators he was "buzzed." When Coleman was asked if Barnett could have been under the impression that the sexual contact could have been consensual, she told investigators, "He was drinking too, so, yeah, he could have."

Experts say it's cases just like this they see on a regular basis.

"What we see here is basically a lot of kids who think nothing bad can happen to them when they drink. And so they feel like, you know, they are invincible or bullet proof," Stubblefield said. "And then when they do step into that realm where they are drinking, bad things happen. Mistakes are made. Some you can come back from. Some you can't."

COVERSA is a metro non-profit that conducts rape kits for sexual assault victims in 23 counties. Last year they assisted 23 girls under the age of 17 who reported being sexually assaulted. Thirty five percent of those young women had voluntarily consumed alcohol before the alleged assault took place.

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10 comments

  • Carla Akins (@carlaakins)

    Really Fox 4, “and now a young man has to spend the next two years on probation”. Boo fricken hoo.

    How about and now a young girl must find a way to deal with the tragedy of being sexually assaulted, left in the yard and the horrific harassment and bullying of her peers and neighbors.

    Yes, we should do a better job of knowing what are teens are doing, yes their judgement was impaired.

    We know where the liquor came from the girls drank before meeting up, where did the booze in the Barnett house come from? Where were the Barnett parents when all this was going on under their roof?

  • John Conners

    Carla, what part of “personal responsibility” do you…. NOT UNDERSTAND? Who in their right mind would allow a 14 year old to slip out at 1am in the morning ? PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. Look it up and perhaps, Carla, apply it to your own life !

  • Joe

    John Conners: I know you have been told this before but you are an idiot. At 14, personal responsibility is at a different level than had she been 18 or 20. You ask who in their right mind would allow the girl to “slip” out. Do you expect the parents to guard the bedroom door so kids don’t slip out? It happens because kids do dumb things but she didn’t do anything to make the boys rape her. They did that on their own when she couldn’t resist.

  • Joe

    The good citizens of Maryville, and I know there are a few, should step up to do something to help this family. They were treated very badly and the community owes them an apology and in a way that includes more than words.

  • Joe

    The court gave Barnett a gift of only 2 years probation. He should feel very lucky he didn’t get some time in jail. Now that the criminal trial is over, the victim and her mother can begin the civil suit. Now is when Grandpa’s deep pockets will come in handy.

  • K.E. Young (@kyoung2125)

    I respect the opinions of all of you but without being the Special Prosecutor, lets respect all involved. We do not know ALL the facts so let us not judge. I never heard the words of ” rape”, “delinquency of a minor”, “furnishing alcohol to minors, “intimidation of witnesses” or “tampering of witnesses” in the charges. It is UNFORTUNATE that the whole incident occurred and there are a lot of people on both sides who are at fault. We know that as fact.
    The Special Prosecutor is a very respectable person and her credentials show she was the best person to look into this. She and a few others KNOW ALL facts. The rest of us do not. So why do we feel so privileged to pass judgement and hurt others. There are several people that have to live with what happened and just like words, once they are said or done, there is NO going back and taking it back no matter how sorry you are.
    What I have been trying to say is that there are always two sides to the story. The facts decide what happens, not opinion. Many do not like the decision but again the facts prevail. Instead of continuing to make opinion or insinuation, let us direct our opinion and energy healing AND working to make sure that nothing like this ever occurs again. Making derogatory statements on either side helps anyone.

  • John Smith

    Yea, this was all alcohols fault. Had nothing to do with the rapist or the enablers of the rapist. Bottom line is that if you find a human child in your possession you are not allowed to legally have sex with them. So the excuses of oh she was drunk or she wanted it or she’s trash and who cares do not fly in the court of law. Unless you are in Maryville MO and then you can rape children at will.

    • Joe

      That is a bit of exaggeration, wouldn’t you say, John. Seems like you have become a little hysterical when you claim they can rape children at will in Maryville. Nobody believes that so let’s not sensationalize this anymore than it has been. Sounds like you have had too much to drink.