How They "Fixed" Megan Rondini's Rape Case For Sweet T
By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published (via Facebook) on August 6, 2017
©Copyrighted and Published (via Facebook) on August 6, 2017
Megan Rondini's rape case was "fixed" from the moment she mentioned the name "Sweet T" to the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Department investigators who met her at the DCH Regional Medical Center ("DCH") around 5 a.m. on the morning of July 2, 2015. Sweet T is the nickname for Terry Jackson Bunn, Jr., a local man who was 14 years older than Megan.
Megan had a sexual encounter with Sweet T in the early hours of the morning. She claimed it was rape. Sweet T initially denied the encounter. After talking to his lawyer, Sweet T changed his story. He admitted the encounter, but claimed it was "consensual sex".
After escaping from Sweet T's house following the sexual encounter, Megan went directly to DCH for a rape examination. DCH did not have a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner who had special training to conduct sexual assault evidentiary exams for rape victims. The staff on duty only performed a routine rape kit exam and collected a urine sample from Megan.
The investigators were called to DCH by the Tuscaloosa Police Department because Megan told the hospital staff she had been sexually assaulted and she wanted to press criminal charges against the man who raped her. Upon arriving at DCH, Investigator Adam Jones obtained a recorded audio statement from Megan.
At the time, Megan did not know Sweet T's real name. When she gave investigators his nickname -- Sweet T -- they immediately knew him as "TJ". They told Megan his real name -- Terry Bunn, Jr. They repeatedly referred to him as "TJ" while talking to Megan at DCH.
Even though Megan was reporting a rape, the investigators classified their initial crime report as a "Special Inquiry". This is the lowest classification assigned to sexual assault complaints during Tuscaloosa Sheriff Ron Abernathy's tenure.
Megan's case received this classification before investigators took any statements from Sweet T and/or third-party witnesses, before the alleged crime scene (i.e., Sweet T's house) had been visited, searched and photographed, and before Megan's rape kit and urine sample had been forensically tested (which never occurred).
Sheriff Abernathy, who unsuccessfully tried to intervene on Sweet T's behalf to quash an earlier rape investigation during Sheriff Ted Sexton's term in office, ordered investigators to "script" Megan's rape case. They dutifully complied with this order. As a result, Megan's case never rose above a "Special Inquiry".
Going forward, Megan would catch hell from investigators, while Sweet T would be afforded special treatment to aid him in escaping prosecution. Later on, investigator Jones would literally convert Megan Rondini from the "victim" of a reported rape into a "felony suspect" who was being investigated for "breaking and entering" and "theft of property" charges for acts she committed while fleeing the scene of her alleged rape.
Sweet T's First Version of His Sexual Encounter With Megan
After taking a statement from Megan at DCH, Jones, Hastings and two other investigators visited Sweet T at his residence at 5:45 a.m. He invited them into the house. He consented to a search of his home and allowed them to take photographs.
They asked Sweet T if he had come home with a female. Sweet T lied to the investigators by stating that he had not.
While investigators were taking photos of the scene, Adam Jones heard a window shut inside the residence. Investigators confronted Sweet T about the window and he advised them that he wanted to speak to his lawyer, which he did.
Jones, Hastings, and the other investigators left the residence. They returned about two hours later. Even though Sweet T had given permission for a search of his residence, the investigators did not remove the occupants from the house or secure the crime scene before leaving. In fact, they left Sweet T and Jason Barksdale alone at the scene after Sweet T had been told he was the "suspect" in Megan's rape case. This failure of duty by the investigators gave Sweet T an ample opportunity to remove, altered, tamper with, or otherwise destroy evidence in the residence after they retreated from the scene.
Sweet T's Second Version of His Sexual Encounter With Megan
After investigators returned to the Sweet T's residence at approximately 8:30 that morning, Attorney Jason Neff spoke to Sweet T and he again gave investigators permission to search his residence. This time, Sweet T and Barksdale were asked to exit the house. The investigators processed the scene and collected Sweet T's bedsheets. They also collected several items outside the house.
They also interviewed Sweet T and Barksdale at the scene. Each man gave a statement.
After speaking with Neff, Sweet T abandoned his first version of the "truth" and provided a second version of the "truth". In the new version of the "truth", Sweet T acknowledged that Megan was at his house in the early hours of the morning. He had seen Megan in Innisfree Irish Pub that night and on prior occasions, but did not know her name. Sweet T said that he and Barksdale picked Megan up as she was walking home alone. They took Megan to her apartment, where she made a drink for Barksdale and him. Sweet T claimed he was not drunk. He did not know Megan's condition. He also said Megan decided she wanted to go to his house. Sweet T claimed that Megan was "outgoing" and "very flirtatious". Once they got to his house, Sweet T said they had "consensual sex" without him using a condom. He also stated that he did not ejaculate during the encounter. Finally, Sweet T claimed that Megan had stolen his money and car keys at the house.
Sweet T's interview lasted 6 minutes and 32 seconds. By law enforcement standards, the interview was cursory, low-keyed, and even filled with moments of laughter.
Jason Neff advised the investigators that Sweet T was going out of town and that he and Sweet T would speak to them further, if needed, upon their return from a pre-planned, 4th of July extended holiday weekend.
Later that day, Sweet T traveled to the Bunn family's home on Ono Island, Alabama. He hung out at the beach with his parents, Neff and his wife Christine, and other friends of the family. This trip facilitated Sweet T's preparation of a third version of the "truth".
Sweet T's Third Version of His Sexual Encounter With Megan
Sweet T's third version of the "truth" was videotaped at the Sheriff's Department on July 6th. This is the interview where Sweet T talked about playing "hardball" with Megan. He repeated and enhanced the scripted statements he gave to investigators on July 2nd. By now, Sweet T was claiming Megan had stolen one of his credit cards and hundreds of dollars in cash, in addition to his car keys. In truth, Megan only took $3, which she gave to a cab driver who came to pick her up at his house after the incident.
Sweet T confided in Attorney Neff that he would drop the felony "breaking and entering" and "theft of property" charges against Megan, if she would drop her rape charge against him.
Even though Adam Jones bullied Megan throughout her videotaped interview at headquarters on the afternoon of July 2nd, she refused to drop the rape charge against Sweet T. She also would not sign a "Refuse to Prosecute" form that Jones provided to her.
In contrast to the laughter and camaraderie exhibited between the investigators and Sweet T during his interview at the house, there was no laughter or bonding occurring during Megan's videotaped interrogation by Jones. What is more, Jones re-victimized Megan by casting her as a felony suspect and reading her Miranda rights while Megan was trying to press a rape charge against Sweet T.
On July 6th, Josh Hastings helped Sweet T's clean up his initial lie to investigators that he did not bring Megan to his house. Hastings suggested an innocent explanation for this false statement. Sweet T readily adopted Hastings' explanation and made it his own. Hastings then ended his ingratiating interview with Sweet T with this telling "good ole boy" declaration: "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."
Helping Sweet T Escape Justice
After concluding their "investigation", Jones and Hastings prepared a "Case Report" that pleased Sweet T and Sheriff Abernathy. According to the report, Megan "never told [Sweet T] to stop or showed any form of earnest resistance". District Attorney Lyn Head rubber-stamped the report. With that, the "fix" in this rape case was complete. Megan's case had been reduced to a "she said; he said" rape case. The Sheriff and DA sided with the "he said" version.
The rape kit and urine sample Megan provided to law enforcement officials to substantiate her rape accusation against Sweet T were never analyzed. These evidentiary items could have buttressed Megan's version of the sexual encounter from a forensic standpoint. The investigators apparently did not want a scientific answer to the question of whether Megan Rondini was the victim of a drug-facilitated rape. They also did not want Sweet T's second and third versions of the "truth" undermined by any kind of scientific evidence.
Sweet T "tipped" DA Lyn Head for a job well done when he sent her a $500 laundered campaign contribution after his rape case was reviewed by a grand jury and no charges were filed. The Bunn family also made generous, laundered campaign contributions to Head before and after Megan filed her rape charge against Sweet T.
A depressed and dejected Megan Rondini committed suicide on February 26, 2016. Her purpose-driven life as a respected University of Alabama honors student and beloved daughter and sister changed forever on that dreadful night at Sweet T's house.
Sweet T stole Megan's joy, spirit, and zest for life. He did not know Megan's name, age, status in life, or anything else about her. In Sweet T's eyes, Megan Rondini was truly a "nobody" who was only good for a drug-induced one-night stand.
With the help of family and friends in high places, Sweet T was able to escape justice, again. He is a free man -- for now.
They almost got away with "fixing" another rape case for Sweet T.