A University of Alabama honors student took her own life after being mistreated by the administration and local authorities. Now, her family plans to sue.
According to an exposé released by Buzzfeed, Megan Rondini was raped by one of the wealthiest men in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, before she hanged herself in February 2016.
Back in 2015, Rondini accused then 34-year-old businessman T.J. Bunn Jr., also known as “Sweet T,” of having sex with her against her will.
She was walking home alone and under the influence of alcohol after a night out when Bunn spotted her and offered her a ride home. However, instead of her own home, she ended up back at his mansion where the alleged rape took place.
After Bunn fell asleep, Rondini managed to escape, but not before taking the man’s gun and some money for a cab from the inside of his vehicle, according to the expose.
Bunn’s family is very influential in Tuscaloosa as the owners of the 80-year-old business ST Bunn Construction.
“His influence and wealth is the reason I can’t press charges,” Rondini reportedly texted a friend. “He’s the charming nice one and I’m the b***h face victim.”
When she reported the sexual assault, investigators downplayed the situation by determining she didn't resist Bunn because she “never kicked him or hit him,” despite verbalizing that she didn’t want to have sex with him.
“Under Alabama’s archaic rape law, victims must prove they ‘earnestly’ resisted their attackers,” Buzzfeed noted. “And the investigator who interviewed Megan quickly decided she hadn’t fought back against Bunn — she hadn’t ‘kicked him or hit him,’ he explained.”
Bunn, of course, insisted that the sex between them was consensual.
The police also quickly turned the tables on Rondini, making her out to be a criminal for taking the gun — which she accidentally fired during escape and struck an occupied residence — and the money.
Based on Buzzfeed’s report, Rondini was essentially bullied by law enforcement into dropping the case.
Making matters worse, when Rondini tried to resume her normal life back at the University of Alabama, she sought counseling from the university’s Women and Gender Resource Center, which failed to help her. Staff therapist Kathy Echols removed herself from Rondini’s case because she knew the Bunn family.
Rondini even dropped out of a Habitat for Humanity-related honors course because ST Bunn Construction was a sponsor.
Everywhere the woman turned, she was faced with reminders of the assault she endured and how influential her attacker was in the community.
Ultimately, Rondini withdrew from the University of Alabama and transferred to Southern Methodist University in Texas, all while suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“She continues to focus on ‘losing everything’ having no power as a women [sic] that was assaulted,” the therapist who diagnosed Rondini reportedly wrote in her notes.
As her depression worsened, Rondini eventually resorted to taking her own life on Feb. 26, 2016. Next to her bed were intake forms for her university’s mental health center in which she wrote that she felt she would be “better off dead.”
Rondini's case is a textbook example of how rape and sexual assault are often mishandled, particularly when the accused is a known figure.
The young woman's life was forever changed for the worse because of one man's decision to take advantage of her.
Her tragic and untimely death is the result of a criminal justice system that failed her and a university that abandoned her.