Megan Rondini’s lawyers: Alleged rapist TJ Bunn is ‘grabbing at straws’ with attack ad
‘The letter was tone deaf and insulting’
"Sweet T" Bunn, the son of a wealthy Tuscaloosa family, paid for a full page newspaper advert entitled "Character Assassination in the Internet Age" last week. It claimed that his alleged rape of Megan was "consensual" and that text message evidence will exonerate him.
She took her own life in 2016 after the police, her local hospital and university failed to take care of her after reporting her ordeal.
Today in an interview with The Tab, the Rondini family lawyer Leroy Maxwell hit back at Bunn and his team for their "tone deaf" advert.
What did you think of the letter taken out in the paper?
I thought the letter was tone deaf. I thought it was insulting. It's a clear example of victim blaming. It was clear what they did – they were alluding to things without any sort of support. We've seen the police record just like they've seen it and we have no clue what they're talking about. Because if you look at those messages any of the evidence they're referring to, in part or in totality, however you want to look at it, it's very clear and obvious as to what happened that evening.
And so I think because [TJ Bunn and his team] know they're going to have serious trouble when they come to the court of law, they're trying to do what they can in the court of public opinion. So that's why they're making vague references because they can do that with blanket immunity through the press. They don't have to support anything with facts.
Once we're able to get all the information out in a public trial, we're excited that everyone will be able to see every single message, all the evidence and they'll be left with only one conclusion: that Megan was assaulted and she took her own life as a result of that. Every single thing in this case points to a young lady who was assaulted and not helped through the entire process of dealing with that assault. That's what we're fighting for. We've made it clear from the beginning that the family is not interested in dollars and cents. For them, they want to see real change and have tried to create that change without a lawsuit. But everything fell on deaf ears, so that's why we're here today. Because the only way to highlight some of things that were done to Megan and to make sure they don't happen again is through litigation.
Their advert said: "The young woman's own texts, emails photographs and statements will bring such embarrassment and intense examination for her friends and associates." What are they referring to?
The only thing I can imagine is that they're talking about some things that were unrelated to this incident and might cause some embarrassment for a young college student. But they have nothing to do with this case. What they're doing is that classic deflective-type argument, where you try to focus on the victim and perhaps say that if she is an imperfect person, then whatever happens to her is something of her own fault and creation.
Are they referring to texts from other incidents?
I can't say that for certain because I'm not sure exactly what they're referring to. We've seen every bit of evidence as well and that's why we're so confident in the lawsuit. It's so blatantly clear that we have a young woman who was assaulted. There's this idea here with a lot of folks, especially in this area for some reason, that if the rape doesn't look like a rape that you would see on TV – someone who's left in a ditch to die. But most rapes occur among people who know each other, who were friendly with each other before.
And all it takes is minutes for things to escalate until a situation where clearly there's no consent. I don't think people understand how traumatic these situations are for folks who are survivors of assault, who've been through it – and what happened to them mentally and physically as these things are happening to them. This letter doesn't seem to take into account any of that. And it seems that basically because this assault doesn't look like a brutal rated-R assault that you would see on TV, then it can't be an assault. That's what I think they're trying to suggest. To be honest, they're grabbing at straws here.
Conversation edited for clarity and length.