“Audrie & Daisy” brings light to sexual assault

Daisy Coleman was 14 years old when she was raped. Audrie Pott was 16 years old when she was sexually assaulted and committed suicide. Both girls are featured in the documentary “Audrie & Daisy,” which highlights the mistreatment of victims of sexual assault and the role that social media plays within that.

The documentary features interviews with Coleman, Coleman’s family, Pott’s parents and two of the perpetrators in the Pott’s case. The two boys were required to appear in the documentary as part of a settlement reached with Pott’s parents. They were referred to throughout the documentary as John B. and John R. John B. and John R. give their accounts of events in between home video clips of Pott at the beach or with her friends and family. It’s sobering to see footage of a young girl so happy and bright, while listening to the horrible details that happened to her on the night of Sept. 12, 2012 in Saratoga, Calif.

The interviews with John R. and John B. are also particularly provocative to watch, as the two have fully admitted their guilt as part of the settlement, but still do not seem to take their actions seriously. Their answers to the interviewer’s questions are nonchalant, and the boys seem to act as though they are removed from the events or as if they were not there that night. This is all interpreted from their cartoon silhouettes though, since their identities were protected.

Coleman’s assault took place in Maryville, Mo. Jan. 8, 2012. Her story is told in the documentary by her, her mother and her brother, who was friends with Coleman’s assailant, Matthew Barnett. Needless to say, they are no longer friends. As was in the case of Pott’s assault, there was a video of Coleman’s assault taken. The video of Coleman was never recovered by the police, although there were rumors at the high school that the video was being passed around. For Pott, her video became widely circulated and contributed to her suicide.

The charges against Barnett were dropped in Nodaway County, Mo., where the assault took place, and the case was only reexamined by special prosecutor Jean Peters Baker in Jackson County, Mo. after intense media coverage and scrutiny. Again, the charges were dropped. In both girls’ cases, the boys only received minimal punishment. It’s hard to watch the mayor of Maryville, Jim Fall, talking about his annoyance with the media coverage of the case. He does not understand why the town is getting so much attention for Coleman when they built a lake a few years before that is very popular, but none of the media came to cover that.

The documentary does a good job of covering all the details of the two cases and the aftermath that followed them. Not only does the documentary display the storylines in a way that makes the whole mess coherent, but in a way that illustrates the need for change in the way these types of cases are handled. “Audrie & Daisy” immediately grabs your attention and keeps you hoping that the girls’ will win the best case scenario. Unfortunately, as with most sexual assaults, justice is not there. As hard as it is to watch, “Audrie & Daisy” does a just job at portraying the mishandling of sexual assault in the U.S.

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