TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – A lawsuit filed by the parents of a Texas woman who killed herself after reporting she was sexually assaulted while attending the University of Alabama has been amended to include the school as a defendant.
Court records show Megan Rondini's parents added the university and its president, Stuart R. Bell, to their federal lawsuit seeking an unspecified amount of money over her treatment following the alleged assault two years ago. Rondini took her own life last year. Her parents live in Austin, Texas.
The updated lawsuit, filed Wednesday, contends the university failed to protect Rondini from T.J. Bunn Jr., whose relatives own a road-building company and are big donors to Alabama athletics, according to the lawsuit. The suit says the university violated its own policies and federal law by failing to properly assist Rondini after she reported what had happened.
The school said in a statement it will "vigorously defend" itself and called Rondini's death "tragic."
Rondini, then a 20-year-old junior who planned to go to medical school, met Bunn at a popular Tuscaloosa bar in July 2015, according to the complaint. She was later sexually assaulted at his home, possibly after being drugged, the suit contends.
Bunn was not charged with a crime. His attorneys placed a full-page advertisement in The Tuscaloosa News on Thursday identifying Bunn publicly and stating that messages sent by Rondini before the encounter showed it was consensual.
"It is this young woman's own words, and her own text messages that led every investigating authority to conclude she had not been sexually assaulted," the ad said.
The case was first reported by Buzzfeed in a story that was widely shared on social media, and the headline of the advertisement called the allegations "Character Assassination In The Internet Age."
The amended lawsuit dropped claims against a former counselor and the head of a university office that deals with women's issues.