August 20, 2017
Mrs. Cynthia Rondini
This is the most difficult letter I have ever written. I was saddened to learn yesterday that you are battling Stage IV pancreatic cancer. Your husband Mike broke the news to me.
As I understand it, you learned of your diagnosis six weeks after Megan's February 26, 2016, suicide. My niece and nephew are world-renowned doctors/pioneers in cancer research. Based upon their body of work in this area, I know the road ahead will be a long and difficult one for you and your family.
You have been pursuing criminal justice in Megan's case from the moment you learned that she was drugged and raped by Terry Jackson "Sweet T" Bunn, Jr. You have been unrelenting in this battle. So was Megan, even when she was alone and in her darkest hour as a rape victim.
Cindy, you do not have to carry on Megan's fight for justice anymore. There is an army of warriors fighting for Megan now.
I am asking you to leave the battlefield. Focus on preparing your daughter Samantha for her senior year in high school, her college years, and womanhood. Love Samantha as only a mother can do. Hold her closely as often as you can. Let Samantha know that Megan has been an exceptional role model and inspiration for all of us.
Megan's life was cut short by the collective failures of the individuals who helped Sweet T escape prosecution for her rape. Yet, Megan's legacy as a champion for justice is alive in the army of committed warriors she has left behind.
There are several things I want you to know as you focus on your health and family during the difficult period that lies ahead.
First, you were a wonderful mother to Megan. You molded her into a very impressive young woman who had a promising future until that dreadful night in 2015 when Sweet T changed her life forever.
Second, tens of thousands of women and men from all walks of life have united to carry on Megan's fight for justice. I am one of them. I was specially trained at The University of Alabama's law school to wage and win fights like this one. In the end, we will prevail because losing is not an acceptable option.
Third, you and Mike entrusted Megan's safety and security to The University of Alabama and the public safety agencies in Tuscaloosa. As discussed below, they failed Megan and the Rondini family.
The videotape of Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Department investigator Adam Jones bullying and threatening Megan was too much for many of us to watch. The law enforcement cover up in Megan's rape case was in full swing when this bullying occurred. While clearing Sweet T of Megan's rape charge, investigator Josh Hastings pointedly told him: "The way I look at, man, if it was me on the other side of it, I would want you to do the same for me." These words capture the "fix" in Megan's case in plain language.
Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy is a political "whore" masquerading as a sheriff. He loves hanging out in skyboxes at Crimson Tide football games because it makes him feel important. There is nothing Abernathy will not do to ingratiate himself to the Bunn family and other members of the oligarchy that run The University of Alabama. Abernathy ordered Megan's rape investigation "scripted" as an accommodation to the Bunn family. The family now owes Abernathy for Sweet T's freedom.
Former District Attorney Lyn Head closed out Megan's rape case on two separate occasions with no independent review of the evidence. She is worse than Abernathy. Head re-victimized Megan when she rubberstamped Abernathy's "scripted" investigative findings. She is also the first prosecutor I have known who accepted cash in the form of laundered campaign contributions from both the rape suspect and his family for ending Megan's rape case in Sweet T's favor. Former Governor Robert Bentley, who resigned in April after pleading guilty to ethics violations, appointed Head to the Alabama Pardons and Parole Board in 2016 so that she could continue her seedy brand of criminal justice.
District Attorney Hays Webb is a sorry excuse for a prosecutor. He is a "photo op" prosecutor who has never lifted a finger to pursue justice in Megan's rape case. Webb's prosecutorial paralysis and deafening silence in Megan's case are unforgiveable.
Finally, there is Steve Marshall -- Governor Bentley handpicked appointee as attorney general. Bentley selected Marshall as AG only after he canvassed Alabama's entire body of district attorneys and identified him as the weakest prosecutor in the state. Marshall, who was a political "fluffer" for Bentley at the time of his appointment, personally approved the "sweetheart" deal that reduced Bentley's four felony ethics violations to "no-jail time" misdemeanors.
Marshall is now busy pursuing justice for Confederate monuments and statues. Sadly, he does not have the time or energy to pursue criminal justice in Megan's rape case. Also, the prosecution of Megan's rape case requires a degree of courage, legal skills, and commitment to rape victims that Marshall does not have.
Fourth, Megan's rape case has revealed the fragile state of Alabama's mainstream media organizations. These news organizations have been missing in action since the June 2017 BuzzFeed News article in Megan's rape case. They are too dependent on advertising dollars from the multitude of corporate entities that are aligned with The University of Alabama and law enforcement agencies in the state to investigate and publish news stories in Megan's rape case. Last month, the Tuscaloosa News profiteered from Megan's tragic story when the newspaper sold the Bunn family space in the News for a full-page attack ad against Megan. This event is not likely to happen again.
I want you to know that it has been my honor and duty to fight with you for justice in Megan's rape case. Forty-four years ago, I took an oath to serve the cause of justice. By fighting for justice in Megan's case, I am fulfilling my oath as an officer of the court and my duty as a journalist.
I do not know what God has planned for you and your family, but I do know this: God has given me the strength of character, ability to focus under the most difficult of circumstances, and the legal training necessary to bring Sweet T, Ron Abernathy, Adam Jones, Josh Hastings, and Lyn Head to justice. Whatever respect I had for the four law enforcement officials in this group was forfeited when they betrayed their sworn duty to protect and serve Megan after Sweet T transformed her into a rape victim. All five of these individuals must go to jail for their roles in betraying and victimizing Megan.
Hays Webb and Steve Marshall are failures as prosecutors. These men hold the power and authority to pursue justice in Megan's rape, but they lack the courage and resolve to do so. They are cowards. Hopefully, the voters of Alabama will escort Steve Marshall and Hays Webb to the exit door the next time they run for office.
The president and board of trustees of The University of Alabama have brought shame on the institution's students, faculty, and alumni by their very public inaction and silence in Megan's case. The University abandoned one of its best and brightest students when Megan needed its support the most. For reasons we will never understand, the University chose to align itself with Sweet T over Megan.
Finally, I do not know if we will ever meet in person. You are in God's hands now. He is a magnificent God. He has brought us together for a purpose, and I fully understand my purpose in your family's life.
As you rest now, please know that I will fight for Megan with every ounce of strength in my body. I will not disappoint you, or Megan. I will not stop fighting for Megan until we have reached the mountaintop of justice.
May God be with you, always and forever!
Donald V. Watkins