Megan Rondini's story had largely been ignored or covered up in Alabama for more than a year. But that changed last Thursday when BuzzFeed News broke a stunning story, "How Accusing a Powerful Man of Rape Drove A College Student to Suicide." Here is the sub-title to reporter Katie J.M. Baker's story: "When an Alabama college student told the police she was sexually assaulted, she did everything she thought she was supposed to do. She ended up killing herself."
Did that get your attention? It certainly got the attention of BuzzFeed readers. As of last night, the article had almost 1.9 million views in less than four days.
Why has the story generated a mixture of sympathy, disbelief, disgust, and outrage? Maybe it's because Rondini had leveled rape allegations against one of Tuscaloosa's elites -- T.J. "Sweet T" Bunn Jr., part of the family behind ST Bunn Construction, which works on projects statewide and claims to have paved every street in Tuscaloosa. Sonny and Terry Bunn, the brothers who currently run the company, were major donors to former Gov. Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley, and Terry ("Sweet T's" father) served on the Bentley transition team. The Bunns are about as entrenched in Tuscaloosa culture as you can get. Reports BuzzFeed, about Terry Bunn:
He’s also listed on rosters for the secretive “President’s Cabinet” at UA, an “invitation-only” alumni group that advises the president of the university. ST Bunn Construction says it helped build Tuscaloosa’s Crimson Tide practice field, and the brothers belong to the booster foundation that paid for renowned UA football coach Nick Saban’s $3.1 million home. Flight records show the Bunn's private jet often touched down near Crimson Tide away games last fall.
The booster group in question is the Crimson Tide Foundation, founded and chaired by Paul Bryant Jr., son of the late Hall of Fame coach, Paul "Bear" Bryant. ST Bunn Construction is listed as part of the Crimson Alliance, for donors who have given from $100,000 to $499,999 to UA athletics. The foundation is closely aligned with Bryant Bank, which Bryant Jr. founded. In 2004, the Crimson Tide Foundation reported $34 million in revenue, but since has stopped reporting to the IRS in public documents.
When Megan Rondini had a sexual encounter in July 2015 at T.J. Bunn's mansion -- Bunn claims the sex was consensual -- she unknowingly walked into a swamp of big money, white privilege, secrecy, and entitlement. The BuzzFeed article suggests that the Tuscaloosa Sheriff's Office made only a half-hearted attempt to pursue Rondini's claim. Even a therapist at the University of Alabama said she could not help because she knew the Bunn family.
Since the BuzzFeed story broke, multiple news outlets have followed in recent days with accounts that portray Tuscaloosa as a dysfunctional college town where one is not supposed to report the misconduct of white elites. Here are examples:
* "A town comes together to protect man accused of sexual assault and his accuser commits suicide," Daily Kos, 6/22/17;
* "Alabama rape victim who killed herself was ‘failed by people meant to protect her’, says campus sexual assault campaigner," The Tab, 6/22/17
* "Alabama rape victim committed suicide after being ‘bullied’ by police protecting wealthy alleged attacker," Raw Story, 6/24/17.
The story went international over the weekend with this report:
* "Parents of University of Alabama honors student, 20, reveal she was driven to suicide after accusing son of local influential family of rape," UK Daily Mail, 6/24/17.
From the Daily Mail report:
Under Alabama's rape law, victims must prove they 'earnestly' resisted their attackers, and the investigator who interviewed Megan, Adam Jones, decided that she hadn't done so against Bunn.
According to him, she hadn't 'kicked him or hit him,' so the investigator would conclude that no rape occurred.
Extensive news coverage apparently was enough to awaken the University of Alabama and the state's mainstream press from their slumber.
"The University of Alabama has been deeply saddened by the death of Megan Rondini, and we continue to offer our sympathy to her friends and family.
Information published by news outlets this week has unfortunately ignored some significant facts. When Megan went to the hospital, a University advocate met her at the hospital to provide support and stayed with her throughout the examination process. Megan also received information from University representatives regarding services available to her on campus, including counseling through the University's Women and Gender Resource Center. When she sought counseling and her first therapist identified a potential conflict as defined by her professional obligations, Megan was immediately introduced to another therapist, who provided care and support. Additionally, the UA Title IX Office was in contact with Megan, including offering academic accommodations and helping to streamline her withdrawal when Megan elected to return to Texas. Because the reported incident occurred off-campus, the University's police department was not involved in the formal criminal investigation.
We hope these recent news accounts, which do not tell the full story, will not discourage others from reporting sexual assault or seeking help and support."
The Tuscaloosa News and al.com, both of which apparently were clueless about the story until BuzzFeed arrived on the scene, published stories on Saturday. (See here and here.) The al.com story states the Rondini family has hired Birmingham attorney Leroy Maxwell, and litigation is planned:
Her parents have hired Birmingham lawyer Leroy Maxwell Jr. of the Maxwell Firm to represent them in filing a federal Title IX complaint against the university, and with possibly other complaints.
Maxwell told AL.com the complaint will be filed by the end of June.
"Megan was loved by everyone who came in contact with her. Her loss is everyone's loss. Title IX, the University of Alabama, the Tuscaloosa Sheriff's department and the overall judicial system in Tuscaloosa let her down on every level. Through litigation our firm is committed to doing everything in our power to shine a light on Tuscaloosa's systemic problem with sexual assault," he said.
It appears Tuscaloosa's toxic culture helped deny Megan Rondini justice in life. Will her family receive some measure of justice now that she is gone?
So glad to see you take on this story. Your voice gets out there, and it needs to be heard on this story.
Excellent report, LS. Please keep your eyes and ears on this case. Sickening.
How is this story not being reported in the mainstream? They covered the Duke case non-stop.
Over the weekend, it started to get MSM coverage, but that came only after BuzzFeed story pretty much went viral.
That statement from the University of Alabama is embarrassingly awful. Someone with a hard head and a tin ear put that together.
Glad to see this story is getting national and international coverage.
If you think the statement from U of Alabama was bad, check out the one from Bunn Construction. It's beyond awful. Think it was in the Tuscaloosa News story, which has a link in LS post.
You are correct, the Bunn Construction statement was in the Tuscaloosa News story, and it basically was an exercise in trashing the messenger, going after BuzzFeed and its reporter. Will find the statement and run it in a comment here. It says a lot about the Bunn family.
Hard working everyday poor and middle class families have had enough of injustices imposed upon them, especially their children, because their lacking the ranks and stations for listings within the social registers; what price is now today the going rate for anyone of these lives lost that others may escape into safe harbors free from responsibilities and accountabilities for their actions/inactions and/or complicities in the aftermaths? What if had this situation been where involving either a poor white family's son, or worst if had been a black boy regardless his background? Apparently people in Tuscaloosa are not aware yet that the rest of the nation looks down upon the state as laughing stocks and being labeled by Harvard Law School study as # 1 in government corruption. Looks as if Washington's power houses and big dollars are buying them a solid senate seat. Is there not any compassion and conscious left in Alabama for those having been denied their justices?
Here is the Bunn family statement, as reported in the T-town News. Not sure it all will fit in the one comment, but I will give it a shot:
The Bunn family issued a statement to The Tuscaloosa News Saturday, through attorney W. Ivey Gilmore Jr. of Tuscaloosa firm Gilmore, Rowley, Crissey & Wilson:
“An internet blog article attacking the Bunn family, the University of Alabama, DCH Regional Medical Center, the Tuscaloosa Homicide Unit and the Tuscaloosa County District Attorney’s Office is an intentional distortion of facts in a tragic case. The writer has distorted or disregarded matters of fact and in doing so has potentially defamed an honest man, a reputable family, and institutions that are the foundation of our community.
"The article paints a picture of a young woman essentially being abducted against her will; but here are the facts:
"• The young woman invited T.J. Bunn and another companion to her apartment where they shared drinks. She then left her apartment with Bunn of her own free will.
"• While a police investigation found no evidence of sexual assault, the young woman admitted to acts that subjected her to possible criminal prosecution.
"• At one point, the young woman’s family took steps to bring civil action against various parties who are the targets of these unfounded accusations. Such action would undoubtedly include demands for financial compensation.
"• This matter was presented to a grand jury and they found no legal grounds to pursue the case.
"It is tragic that this young woman took her own life, but defaming an entire city, its leaders, its institutions and a prominent family brings no honor to this tragedy and no justice for anyone.”
The university obviously is planning for a lawsuit. That's the whole point of its statement. I see no sign that anyone in the UA hierarchy gives a damn that a former student killed herself because of the abuse she suffered in Tuscaloosa.
It's interesting that BuzzFeed can't seem to figure out how "Sweet T" Bunn makes a living. Looks to me like he sucks on daddy's coat tails, and in his spare time, finds it "sporting" to shoot and kill and wild animals.
What a classy guy!
Good point. Perhaps someone who doesn't care about animal life, is not likely to care about human life? This is from BuzzFeed article:
Megan couldn’t remember how she ended up in Sweet T’s white Mercedes on the way to his ornate mansion, decorated with his choicest hunting conquests, from massive-tusked elephant and wide-mouthed hippo heads to taxidermied lions and leopards.
What if one of the innocent wives or children featured on your blog here commits suicide after suffering humiliating exposure by you?
You are comparing journalism -- accurate journalism -- to the aftereffects of a woman being raped? You must be on the verge of losing your mind.
I'd suggest you try to get a grip, but this comment indicates you've maybe lost it already.
That statement from the Bunn family probably is the most thoughtless load of crap I've ever read. Speaks volumes about these knuckle draggers.
I bet this was not "Sweet T" Bunn's first rape. I bet he regularly preys on female UA students, and most never say a word about what happened.
Did Tuscaloosa thugs have something to do with your arrest and incarceration in Shelby County?
The answer probably is yes. At the time of my arrest, I had just helped Bloomberg Markets and reporter Anthony Effinger on an article about Paul Bryant Jr.'s ties to massive insurance fraud. I wrote about that in the following post:
From that post:
"Bloomberg Markets picked up on our reporting in fall 2013, and reporter Anthony Effinger consulted me multiple times while conducing research for his article, which appeared in the January 2014 print issue. (See article at end of this post.)
"My last communication with Effinger was on October 12, 2013. Eleven days later, I was arrested related to a defamation lawsuit filed by Republican political figure Rob Riley. Shelby County deputies entered my home, without showing a warrant or stating they had a warrant, and beat me up and maced me in the face, dragging me off to a jail, where I stayed for five months--becoming the only journalist in the western hemisphere to be arrested in 2013."
How far are you going to go to protect Ashley Madison? Actual suicides, not mythical ones, have been reported because of the company's failure to protect client data. You don't seem at all concerned about that. Sicko!
What is the document which was removed from the post you referenced above? Why was it removed?
Interesting time line:
Wednesday July 01, 2015 Megan goes with sorority friends to Innisfree Irish Pub
From there, unknown how she wound up in this guy's car
and locked inside his home, in his bed;
Thursday July 02, 2015 Megan escapes via the second floor window, after telling
this guy that she wanted to return to Innisfree Irish Pub
to be with her friends;
Without knowing her location, without money broke into
vehicle in efforts to obtain taxi fare or help, and in
doing so, out of fear took a weapon;
Thursday July 02, 2015 A,M. a friend of Megan's takes her to the hospital; no rape
Thursday July 02, 2015 Megan goes to authorities to file an official complaint
about what had happened to her; no records of blood/urine
Thursday July 02, 2015 A.M. when police arrive at this residence, this guy tells
police officers there hasn't been anyone else there during
the past evening; why?
Thursday July 02, 2015 Megan still at police station as late as 2 p.m.
Friday July 03, 2015 This guy and supposedly his attorney goes on over-weekend
Saturday July 04, 2015 Megan is left to fend for herself;
Sunday July 05, 2015 Megan is left to fend for herself;
Monday July 07, 2015 A.M. this guy and supposedly his attorney appears at
police station discussing fishing trip, denying Megan's
allegations while at same time making accusations of her
involvements in criminal activity that actually resulted in
where she could get free from her locked-
in confinement at his residence.
So, where are the police interviews from the sorority sisters attending the Pub
with Megan; when did they [all] leave, together, or with others?
What time did Pub close?
What time was Megan last seen leaving?
By herself, or with others, or with someone?
Who witnessed her walking down WHAT street incoherent that she would be offered
Why wasn't there either a hospital or police blood or urine specimen taken to check for her being possibly date raped?
The people of Alabama need to rise to the occasion and openly extend to this young lady's parents in Texas this state's most encouraging ethical and moral supports that we can.
I read in one of the articles that Sweet T.'s office is across from Innisfree Pub and he was there buying beers for the sorority girls after work as he usually does. I would bet if she can't remember getting into his white mercedes after she started her walk home its because he probably drugged her drinks while he was talking with her, that's why she doesn't remember. I would bet my life on this girl Meghan is not the first girl he has drugged and raped. And the worst part is, he will get by with it and he will continue to do it. A person who has the audacity to brag about his live animals killed and hung on the wall will do anything to a female as theres probably a little more respect for the wild animals before he kills them than for a woman or young girl. I think she should have gotten the gun and shot his stupid head off and let the family mount his head on the wall. So there, I don't care what anyone thinks about what I have said here. Alabama is the worst state I have ever lived in where women are treated as chattel, given jewelry to keep quiet about their husbands affairs, and little girls going on dance dinner dates with their fathers. Its disgusting the way women are treated here. There's not enough time or room on this blog to go off on the damage the so called courts, judges, and filthy lawyers have heaped upon women's and children's heads here. If they expect to keep running the plantation so called university of alabama, they need to have CNN, MSNBC, PBS, all over their damn campus from this day forward until this girl is exonerated and her family PAID, after all thats all there is left to do, get the rich assholes where it hurts most, their pocketbook!
It's funny to see the articles mention TJ as a prominent businessman. I'm not sure what he even does at ST Bunn. He uncle, Sonny, is the business man. TJ's father, Terry, rides Sonny's coat tails, and his money rolls downhill to TJ. When Sonny hands over the company's reigns to the next generation of the family, the business will crumble.
Nevertheless, from what I know of TJ, I can't see him drugging someone's drink. However, I can see him taking advantage of a young woman's inebriation to get her to come home with him, expect sex, then be very persistent about it until the woman gives in. Something obviously happened that shook that poor girl's world apart.
I cringed watching the video of the police talking to TJ. Is video of the entire interview available anywhere?
That was a copy of the Bloomberg Markets article about Paul Bryant Jr.'s ties to insurance fraud. The document was lost when Ashley Madison bots attacked my account at Scribd and caused several 100 stored documents to be lost. I'm planning litigation in the future to get those documents back. Ashley Madison and Scribd conspired to steal them. Here is a link to the article, from the Web:
You might have thought Sweet T had earned a Civil Engineering or a Construction Engineering degree. Because road paving and whatnot.
Perhaps you thought Sweet T might have earned a management or accounting degree. Because family bidness.
"The prospective groom is the grandson of Irene Bunn and the late S.T. Bunn and John and Sarah Allen of Tuscaloosa.
He is a 1999 graduate of Holt High School attended the University of Alabama, where he received a bachelor’s degree in consumer affairs. He is employed by S.T. Bunn Construction."*
At UA there might be more football players in the College of Consumer Affairs than in the College of Engineering.
Thanks for the info. Is "Sweet T" still married or did that one fall through?
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Is Alabama's Football Factory Fueled In Part With the Proceeds From Insurance Fraud?
So the missing doc at the post above (Here is the 2006 DOI report on Alabama Reassurance:) is probably also missing because of the previously mentioned trouble?
I thank you for your information and quick response with a few more Bryant Bunn philanthropy links:
The University of Alabama Kicks Off Crimson Tradition Fund 6/12/2002 12:00:00 AM Monday, March 04, 2002
Crimson Tradition Campaign Achieves Five-Year Goal 4/23/2007 12:00:00 AM
1:56 here again.
I don't know about Sweet's current marital status.
There could be some local court records which could clarify that. Unless a friendly judge has sealed them.
I'm pretty sure he is divorced. His ex is quite attractive,
WTF! she didn't fight back. There are court cases which clearly state you don't have to. If no consent is given then its rape. If you're passed out and there is sex, the passed out party can not give consent, therefore its rape.
What back water laws do they have in Alabama. there was a gross violation of this young woman's right to not be raped.
No. one change the rape laws in Alabama. they are most likely kept the way they are to protect the financial elite and their supporters from rape charges.
No.two I do hope the parents can sue and bankrupt this family and the university.
No one cared about this young woman. women might want to give going to the university a pass. get raped and nothing will happen. Oh, wait, one could shoot her rapist, defending herself. Of course then she would be charged with murder because the rapist was some entitled piece of shit from the elite.
if a rape victim says she can't remember you'd think the hospital would have done a blood test to check for date rape drugs. of course if its one of the financial elites, the powers that be will simply give him a pass. One of these days one of these elites is going to try to rape the wrong woman and find out he got shot for his troubles, with film at 9 to prove what the woman said is the truth..
You are using a post about a young woman's suicide after she was the victim of an apparent rape to further your goofy "cause" to support Ashley Madison -- and you don't even see how demented that is. Get some help, bud. You need it. No wonder you are aligned with one of the sleaziest companies in modern North American history. A perfect fit.
I've found law-enforcement types often don't know the law, and they turn it into whatever they want it to be. Here is Alabama law on first-degree rape:
Rape in the first degree.
(a) A person commits the crime of rape in the first degree if:
(1) He or she engages in sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex by forcible compulsion; or
Here is the definition of that key term, forcible compulsion:
(8) FORCIBLE COMPULSION. Physical force that overcomes earnest resistance or a threat, express or implied, that places a person in fear of immediate death or serious physical injury to himself or another person.
The key term there is "earnest resistance." It looks like quite a few states have eliminated that term, and al.com reports there is a move afoot to remove it in Alabama. The Rondini case probably will get that removed, so something positive might come out of this.
But I'm not sure cops are applying this correctly. Buzzfeed reported that an investigator told Rondini, "You never kicked him or hit him or tried to resist him." There is nothing in the statute that says she had to kick him or hit him. Common sense tells you she could have put her life at risk by doing that. Under the law, a firm "No" probably is earnest resistance, but cops have turned the law into something that isn't there. If it's there at all, it must be in case law, and I haven't found that yet.
This is from Lucas v. State, a 2016 case that is the most recent we can find on the issue of "earnest resistance."
`"Earnest resistance" is likewise a relative term, and when determining whether there was earnest resistance, the relative strength of the victim and the defendant, the victim's age, the victim's physical and mental condition, and the degree of force employed must be considered.' C.M. v. State, 889 So. 2d at 64 (citing Richards v. State, 475 So. 2d 893, 895 (Ala. Crim. App. 1985))."
Pretty clear to me that the Tuscaloosa cops sold Megan Rondini a heaping pile of horse feces.
@e.a.f. At what point did the article say she was passed out when they had sex. She said she didn't remember getting in his car, going to her apartment and part of the ride to his house. The rest of her memory seems to be pretty good after that. So she could have fought back. I wonder how many times women claim rape just because they regret it afterwords or are trying to get money. That's the reason they want signs of resistance. I guess I need to draft up a legal contract for women to sign before fooling around.
@Truthseeker When did being a big game hunter automatically qualify you to be a convicted rapist. Just because you don't agree with his hobby doesn't mean you can judge him a criminal.
On a different not, the University seems to have done everything they could do for woman. The therapist that recused herself did what she should have done. If I were a "victim" and I wouldn't want to have the therapist repeat anything to the other party. The University provided another therapist for her. The original article made it sound as if they didn't have anybody to be on her side.
If a woman says no to sex, that should be enough resistance to be expected as no consent. If you're a woman trapped with a man in that man's room, it's likely that you will not want to fight him physically because you're scared of how he can physically hurt you (he's bigger, and he might even have weapons hidden somewhere in the room, or other people to help him).
@Lily Sun I agree that if a woman says no it should be enough, but the problem is that it's her word against his. If there is reasonable doubt, the proper thing to do is let him go. I believe the saying is that it is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer. Had she fought, he may have had bruising or she might have gotten a black eye maybe worse, but at least that corroborates her story.
omg, the rape laws in Alabama are from another century. guess they won't be changing any time soon.
A 6:46, you too must be from another century or so ago. No one ought to have to fight back for it to constitute rape. If you can't give consent, then its rape.
with these laws people who might be incapacitated due to illness could not say they were raped because they didn't fight back.
Oh, well the U.S.A. is now 38th when it comes to being considered a "reliable" country. Behind Mexico. Canada is rated number 1 and then its on to countries like those in Europe, Australia, etc.
Some date rape drugs have limited time runs. So its quit possible some one would remember before and then again after, if the drug doesn't stay in your system for too long. Wonder how this case would have turned out if it had been a man who had been raped or the female was one of the elites.
Morale of the story, don't send your child to university in Alabama because if they are raped the law won't be there for you.
You nailed it, and UA has been recruiting out-of-state students like mad. In fact, I think it now has one of the largest percentages of out-of-state students of any public university in the country. UA is in Alabama, with a student body that increasingly is made up of kids from somewhere else (like Megan Rondini), who have no idea what life in a banana republic can be like. Parents probably think, "Well, Alabama is in the United States, how bad can it be?" But as I've written here, Alabama is part of what I call "The New Confederacy." It's controlled by white elites who make up their own laws and ignore constitutional guarantees. When you enter Alabama, and other states like it, you essentially are entering a lawless, foreign territory. Megan Rondini had no way of knowing that, and that's why she is no longer alive. This blog has been shining light on the reality of states like Alabama for 10 years, and it's why my home and career have been stolen from me -- why I spent five months in jail, why Carol and I likely have been targeted for murder at least once (in Alabama) and maybe a second time (in Missouri). These states, I'm convinced, feature an unusually high number of sociopaths, people without a conscience who do not care about harm inflicted on others. I guarantee you they don't care one iota about young women like Megan Rondini. They see them as prey. At some point, I bet "Sweet T" Bunn asked Megan, "Hey, babe, where are you from?" When she said, "Texas," his mind probably went, "This will be like taking candy from a baby." Alabama is a beautiful state in a lot of ways, and that's what helps attract out-of-state students, and it's a big reason I stayed there for 35 years. But it's ruling class includes some of the worst sickos on the planet.
For 35-plus years, we've been experiencing the "Southernification of the U.S," and it's led us to having states like Donald Trump in the White House. States like Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, Missouri, and more might as well be way down in Dixie because they are filled with folks who think just like the "New Confederates" in Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, and so on.
They "streamlined" her withdrawal....ouch. The fact that they think that is a plus is a red flag. They should have tried to convince her she should stay in school and that they were supportive of her whether law enforcement was or not.
Good point. They saw her as a problem and wanted to get rid of her. I think sociologists call that "Blaming the Victim." There's a lot of that going around.
Sad that this happened,and also it is sad that Megan's story has such a ring of truth.
While I hope this obnoxious rapist is punished, even if only in his nightmares, throwing in a label like "white privilege" in a case where a white girl is raped by a white male is intellectually dishonest at best and moronic at worst, especially in the face of the number of black college rapists who have escaped prosecution because they were stars on college sports teams.
That is his daddy's house. I grew up with him and know the house well. I believe he did this 100 percent
He is not. I grew up with him. A total tuscaloosa creation
Post a Comment