Bunn Family Ties To Tuscaloosa, The University Of Alabama, and Law Enforcement Agencies Run Deep
By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published (via Facebook) on July 11, 2017
©Copyrighted and Published (via Facebook) on July 11, 2017
The family of T.J. "Sweet T" Bunn, Jr., is well connected in Tuscaloosa and at The University of Alabama. Sweet T's is the alleged rapist of University honors student Megan Rondini. The sexual encounter occurred at his Tuscaloosa home on the night of July 1, 2015. Sweet T is reported to be a 2005 graduate of the University.
Megan was 20 and Sweet T was 34 at the time of the alleged rape.
ST Bunn Construction Company
Sweet T's father, Terry Jackson Bunn, Sr., and uncle, Sonny T. Bunn, Jr., own and run Tuscaloosa-based ST Bunn Construction Company, Inc. Sweet T is said to be an employee of the company.
Founded in 1939 by Sweet T's grandfather, ST Bunn Construction has paved or repaved virtually every street in Tuscaloosa at least once over the decades. ST Bunn, Sr., began the business with just two trucks. In the early days the company hauled asphalt for other construction companies and even hauled defense materials during World War II. Gradually, ST Bunn Construction Company moved into the asphalt business and it became the specialty of the company.
In 2010, the company resurfaced University Boulevard, which runs through the heart of The University of Alabama campus. By 2014, one Tuscaloosa County commissioner described ST Bunn Construction Company's pipeline of asphalt paving contracts with the county as a "monopoly".
Loyalty to the Crimson Tide
The Bunn family's relationship with The University of Alabama is mutually beneficial and ironclad. Over the years, the Bunn family has shown its support of the University by: (a) leasing a luxury skybox suite in Bryant-Denny Stadium, which required a one-time $500,000 pledge of money, together with a hefty annual lease payment, plus the costs of tickets; (b) serving as a member of the Crimson Tradition Committee which raised more than $70 million to renovate and construct certain athletic facilities on campus; (c) contributing major donations to the Crimson Tide Foundation; and (d) lending the use of their corporate jet to the Athletic Department.
Terry Bunn has also served as a member of the University President's Cabinet, which is a powerful group of about 300 members who advise the President on matters of importance to the alumni, donors, political establishment, and corporate community.
The Bunn family's longtime loyalty to the University places it at the top of the Crimson Tide's list of most valued relationships. Leslie Abernathy, the wife of Tuscaloosa Sheriff Ron Abernathy and Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at the University, nurtures, oversees, and protects this important relationship.
In the aftermath of Megan Rondini's alleged rape and her February 26, 2016, suicide, the public has witnessed the unbreakable bond of loyalty and vow of silence between the Bunn family and The University of Alabama.
To be clear, the University has chosen to stand with alleged rapist Sweet T over alleged rape victim Megan Rondini. As far as the University is concerned, Bunn family money was and is the trump card in Megan's rape case.
Law Enforcement Ties That Bind
When it comes to law enforcement agencies, the Bunn family is a member of an elite group of movers and shakers in Alabama. Along with Alabama Power Company, Anheuser-Bush, Drummond Company, and Blue Cross-Blue Shield, ST Bunn Construction Company is a major corporate sponsor of the Alabama State Trooper Association. This organization is comprised of over 1,000 active and retired state troopers and advances law enforcement interests in a variety of matters.
ST Bunn Construction Company has also been a major campaign contributor to Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy, former District Attorney Lyn Head, current District Attorney Hays Webb, and former Governor Robert Bentley, who used his role as "Chief Magistrate of Alabama" to investigate, harass, and abuse critics. Bunn family money was usually laundered through political action committees chaired by Bentley's 2010 and 2014 campaign finance chief, Mike Echols.
Terry Bunn was a $2,400 contributor to U.S. Senator Richard Shelby's 2009 re-election campaign. As Alabama's senior senator, Shelby holds considerable sway over presidential nominations and senate confirmations for U.S. Attorney positions and federal judgeships throughout Alabama. There was no record of Bunn family contributions to former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions.
Special Privileges for Sweet T
In recent years, Sweet T has been arrested for DUI twice; once in 2013 and again in 2016. He avoided a jail sentence each time. He even found a creative way to get his drivers license back after his first arrest. Sweet T simply filed a "sweetheart" lawsuit against the Bentley-controlled Department of Public Safety and the agency gave the license back to him.
Bentley, who was beholden to the Bunn family, had already appointed Sweet T to the Advisory Board of the Alabama Conservation Agency on March 27, 2012. The governor reappointed Sweet T to a full 6-year term on the Board three years later. Bentley needed and received Bunn family financial support for his 2014 gubernatorial re-election campaign.
Sweet T's second DUI arrest occurred on the same day Megan hung herself.
Within weeks of Sweet's second DUI arrest, Sheriff Abernathy worked with District Attorney Lyn Head to clear the two of them of any wrongdoing in Megan's rape case by presenting the accusations to a March 2016 grand jury. They were also able to spin the evidence in this rape case as they saw fit because Megan was dead.
When Abernathy served as chief deputy sheriff, he tried unsuccessfully to get former Tuscaloosa Sheriff Ted Sexton to ignore a 2009 or 2010 a reported rape case against Sweet T. Sexton declined and referred the case to the Alabama Bureau of Investigation for investigation and prosecution, if warranted. There is no record of rape charges being filed against Sweet T after this referral.
The Bunn family's financial relationships with various law enforcement agencies, its bond of loyalty with the University, and respected political clout in Alabama have given rise to a special form of protectionism and immunity from prosecution for Terry Jackson "Sweet T" Bunn, Jr. As a result, Megan is dead and Sweet T is free. He is reportedly on the prowl again at local bars and saloons.