Monday, July 03, 2017

Open Letter to the University of Alabama Board of Trustees Re: Justice in Megan Rondini’s Case - Donald V. Watkins 

July 3, 2017
Open Letter to the University of Alabama Board of Trustees
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Re: Justice in Megan Rondini's Case
Dear Trustees Karen P. Brooks, John H. England, Jr., Joseph C. Espy, III, Ronald W. Gray, Barbara Humphrey, Vanessa Leonard, W. Davis Malone, III, Harris V. Morrissette, Scott Phelps, William Brett Sexton, W. Stancil "Stan" Starnes, Finis E. St. John, IV, Marietta M. Urquhart, Kenneth L. Vandervoort, James W. Wilson, III, Michael Sentence, and Kay Ivey:
Yesterday, I published an open letter to University President Stuart R. Bell about the tragic situation involving Megan Rondini, a former honors student at the University. BuzzFeed News introduced Megan and her gut-wrenching story to the world on June 22, 2017. It was heartbreaking to those of us who value the safety and security of female students at the University.
I have known some of you for decades. John England graduated a year behind me in law school. Joe Espy and I have worked on several high profile cases together. I knew Stan Starnes when he was actively trying medical malpractice cases as a defense attorney. I have been a supporter of Gov. Ivey for decades.
We have a problem within our UA family – we failed Megan Rondini when she needed us the most. We re-victimized Megan when the University issued its "CYA" press release the day after BuzzFeed News published its story. This error in judgment has been compounded by President Bell's deafening silence in the face of growing angst among the parents of female students who see Megan's experience as every parent's worst nightmare. I am in this group of parents.
After I published my open letter to President Bell, a lot of concerned alumni asked me what I wanted the University to do in Megan's case. The answer is simple -- use the full power and resources of the University of Alabama to pursue criminal justice in Megan's case. Please finish the criminal justice process that young Megan started. Stand with and for her.
Joe Espy, John England, and I have been participants in Alabama's criminal justice system for decades. We know what "home-cooking" looks and feels like within a local law enforcement agency and inside the judicial system. Megan, who was from Texas, got a mega dose of Tuscaloosa-style "home-cooking" in 2015. This "home-cooking" was administered to an innocent 20-year old woman while she was 772 miles away from home, at a time when she was alone in the criminal justice system, and while she was in the most vulnerable state of mind as an alleged sexual assault victim. The mistreatment of Megan galls me as an attorney, as a man, and as a father of a daughter who attends the University.
The University's law school trained me well in the development and use of evidence during the art of trial advocacy. As a result of this training, my landmark cases have positively impacted the quality of life for thousands of Alabamians. These skills have also enabled me to achieve a record in American jurisprudence for uncovering the highest number of cover-ups in cases involving government, military, and law enforcement misconduct.
Based upon the evidence I have reviewed in Megan's case to date, I reasonably believe that T.J. "Sweet T" Bunn, Jr., sexually assaulted Megan Rondini at his Tuscaloosa home on the night of July 1, 2015. This body of evidence includes: (a) the verified conduct of both parties prior to and after the sexual encounter that night, (b) the proclivities and social histories of both parties; (c) photographs taken at Innisfree Iris Pub in Tuscaloosa on the night in question and afterwards; (d) Megan's description of what happened in Sweet T's house; (e) Sweet T's description of what happened in the house; (f) the manner in which Adam Jones "investigated" Megan's rape complaint and Josh Hastings "coached" Sweet T on what to say in response; (g) the misconduct of former DA Lyn Head prior to and after Megan's death; (h) Lyn Head's failure to recuse herself from handling Megan's case because of her apparent conflicts of interest; (i) pertinent pattern and practice evidence relating to Sweet T; (j) Megan's conduct and documents she left behind on the day of her death, (k) and pertinent Alabama Bureau of Investigation documents and Sheriff's Office records that pre-date the sexual encounter between Megan and Sweet T.
In light of this evidence and other salient factors, Megan's criminal complaint of rape against Sweet T should be reopened and reviewed by a special prosecutor who is fair-minded, competent, capable, and independent, and who possesses the highest degree of integrity and courtroom skills. The University should make this request on behalf of Megan, her family, and itself because (a) Megan was a student in the University's watch-care on the night in question and (b) the key players in the Tuscaloosa law enforcement community are too compromised and tainted by their incestuous relationships to conduct a proper investigation or initiate a criminal prosecution, if warranted.
I know two prosecutors who fit this profile. They are former Montgomery County DA Jimmy Evans and former Baldwin County DA John David Whetstone. Both men are seasoned prosecutors who fear no special interest group and both possess formidable trial skills. Their integrity and ability to deliver justice in Megan's case are beyond question.
The goals here are straight-forward: First, find out the whole truth about what happened to Megan Rondini at Sweet T's house on the night of July 1, 2015. Second, criminally punish the alleged wrongdoer.
In my humble opinion, nothing short of this measured approach will deliver the justice that Megan and her family so truly deserve.

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