At times, I feel like I am repeating myself when I write about some of these cases. It bothers me that STILL…today in 2017, we as a society are still talking about what qualifies as “rape”, and that there are still little men out there who are such pussies that they have to get laid by taking advantage of women who are incapacitated and cannot say NO or fend them off. We shouldn’t have to have a discussion of what qualifies as rape. Simply telling stating “NO” should be enough for someone to back off or stop being aggressive. We also shouldn’t have to be afraid to report that we were raped for fear that someone (LE) isn’t going to believe us or that we are going to be questioned whether we fought them off or maybe because of how we behaved in the past, somehow we deserve it or were asking for it. These conversations should not be taking place. Rape is RAPE – No means NO! Legislation should not be so archaic to define the level in which a person had to fend off or resist to qualify as being raped, as it is in Alabama.
I just LOVE Katie Baker. Katie is top of the field when it comes to writing about rape cases that are essentially being kept from the public’s attention. Katie wrote about Megan Rondini and has pretty much created a shitstorm of ass covering, and probably threats of lawsuits as TJ Bunn has a reputation of shutting people up through use of SLAPP suits and abusing the court system to silence speech. During her investigation of the case, she pointed out the very archaic and ridiculous Alabama definition of rape:
Under Alabama’s archaic rape law, victims must prove they “earnestly” resisted their attackers, 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. His investigation would conclude that no rape occurred.
The Megan Rondini case reminds me in a lot of ways of the Steubenville case. She was a student at the University of Alabama and TJ Bunn and his family had close ties to the university. When the rape was reported and Megan spoke with a counselor from UA, she recused herself from her case because she knew the Bunns. Everyone in Tuscaloosa knows the Bunns. Their 80 year old construction company has worked on major state projects and they claim to have paved every street in Tuscaloosa. It would be hard to find someone who didn’t know the family or TJ “Sweet T” Bunn. Megan was kicked by the system every time she turned around – to the point that when she made the report about being raped, she was going to be charged with crimes related to trying to escape from TJ Bunn’s residence. Bottom line is this: TJ Bunn raped a girl and rather than being punished for being a scumbag rapist, a town, a university, law enforcement, and an old boys’ system turned against Megan Rondini to the point that she couldn’t take it anymore and hung herself.
I feel like five years later I shouldn’t have to still be outraged over some of these cases. Nothing has changed. Universities still cover for athletes; high schools still cover for athletes; Men should not be allowed to get away with violent crimes against women because of who they are or how fast they can run across a football field.
Donald V. Watkins has been going heavy against the university and TJ Bunn. His open letter to Bunn says it all.
June 27, 2017
Open Letter to T.J. “Sweet T” Bunn, Jr.
Dear Mr. Bunn,
My name is Donald V. Watkins. To my knowledge, we have never met. The unfortunate incident that happened to Megan Rondini at your home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on the night of July 1, 2015, has brought us together.
You got to know Megan in life, at least on that one night in July when you admitted to having sex with her. I have only gotten to know Megan in death.
I am a trial lawyer and investigative journalist. I usually work on the difficult cases most prosecutors are afraid to touch, or on exposing the cases where prosecutors have “fixed” the outcome for the benefit of rich and powerful people.
I am very familiar with how some law enforcement investigators and prosecutors “fix” cases for the oligarchy that runs Alabama. I have seen this type of prosecutorial misconduct occur throughout my 44-year legal career. I also understand how prosecutors sometimes use the grand jury system as cover for their unwillingness to prosecute rich and powerful people. Whether a case is indicted or not often depends upon the socio-economic status of the parties involved and how a prosecutor presents the evidence and applicable law to grand jurors.
I understand sexual assault cases in Alabama (and elsewhere). To me, a sexual assault is not just a sex crime; it is an act of violence against the victim. In many cases, the deck is already stacked against female victims of sexual assaults by the very nature of our male dominated world of law enforcement.
One version of the “truth” in Megan’s case resulted in her allegations of sexual assault against you going away. Former Tuscaloosa District Attorney Lyn Head reportedly presented Megan’s sexual assault case to a Tuscaloosa County grand jury several weeks after her February 26, 2016, death and that body took no action against you.
Today, Megan is dead and you are walking around free. The criminal justice system in Tuscaloosa worked well for you. The same system failed Megan miserably.
My job is to find and report the whole truth in Megan’s case. I have been doing this kind of work for a long time.
You may be familiar with some of my most recent work. In 2014, I discovered and reported the shocking truth about the wife-beating conduct and marital infidelity involving a powerful federal judge in Montgomery. He was forced to resign his lifetime judgeship a year later. In 2015, I uncovered and reported the public corruption that forced former governor Robert Bentley to resign after pleading guilty to ethics violations. In 2016, I solved the 2005 murder of Army PFC LaVena Johnson by a four-star general on a military base in Balad, Iraq. The Army had publicly and falsely classified Private Johnson’s death as a “suicide” for more than ten years. The Pentagon shielded the details of Private Johnson’s murder from public view by classifying her “suicide” as a national security matter that required express written approval from the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before any information could be released to the public about her death.
In each of these cases, the perpetrator was a powerful male who thought he could escape the fair administration of justice in his case. In the end, we were able to find and report the whole truth in each case.
At the outset, I want you to know that one thing about Megan’s case really bothers me. I was not impressed with the law enforcement investigation that occurred after Megan reported her allegations of sexual assault against you. I was somewhat surprised by the ingratiating manner in which investigator Josh Hastings conducted his interview with you. His leading questions basically suggested the answers he wanted to hear in order to clear you.
It must have been comforting to have your lawyer present during the interview. I wish an attorney had been present to represent Megan’s interests during her interview with investigator Adam Jones. I know from personal experience that the presence of an experienced, strong attorney helps to keep a criminal investigator properly focused on the sexual assault allegations reported by the victim. It also tends to level the playing field between a perpetrator and his victim. Without this kind of representation, the tables often and quickly get turned against female sexual assault victims, especially when the perpetrator is rich and famous, or enjoys celebrity status.
A lot of people failed Megan after she escaped from your house through a second floor window on the night in question. Lost in the fog of the PR spin coming from the Tuscaloosa Sheriff’s Department and the University of Alabama is any credible explanation from law enforcement officials as to why Megan would immediately go to the hospital for a forensic exam and then proceed to a law enforcement agency in the middle of the night to file a sexual assault report if, in fact, no sexual assault had occurred at your house.
I will be working on Megan’s case until we can walk the whole truth out from under the cloak of PR spin and into the sunlight of justice for Megan. There will be no failure of justice in Megan’s case. We owe this much to Megan and her family. #MeganRondini