Parents of Alleged Rape Victim Sue U. Alabama After She Kills Herself: 'Tragic Yet Preventable Situation'
Eight months after Megan Rondini was allegedly raped, she committed suicide at home
Megan Rondini was a 20-year-old premed student at the University of Alabama in July 2015 when her life changed.
That’s when Rondini, a junior, told friends that she had met a man at a popular bar in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. At some point in the evening, she alleged she was sexually assaulted at his home, possibly after being drugged. In one of the first news articles written about the assault, Buzzfeed reported that Rondini had to escape from the alleged rapist by climbing out his second-story window.
According to her parents, Rondini went into a downward spiral after the alleged assault. They say she suffered depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. She withdrew from the University and returned home to Texas. In February 2016, she hanged herself.
Now Rondini’s parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against several people who they say failed her daughter. In the lawsuit, obtained by PEOPLE, Michael and Cynthia Rondini are suing their daughter’s alleged rapist, two university employees, the Tuscaloosa County sheriff, a sheriff’s deputy, and a sheriff’s office investigator.
The complaint alleges that the university did not give Rondini adequate psychological treatment and support after the incident. The suit says that specific University employees “deliberately and repeatedly denied services and mishandled accommodations with hostility.”
The suit also claims that the sheriff’s office inadequately pursued the investigation, and were sympathetic towards the alleged rapist rather than their daughter. The suit also claims that authorities focused on some of Rondini’s actions, including taking a handgun and cab fare from her alleged attacker’s home.
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The Rondini’s attorney, Leroy Maxwell Jr., did not return PEOPLE’s call for comment, but told AL.com that the family hopes this lawsuit will prevent other families from going through the same thing. “The Rondini family is not in this for the money, they are only interested in shining a bright light on a tragic yet preventable situation,” Maxwell said in a statement. “The court will determine if this case rises to the level of punitive damages.”
Meanwhile, several entities are working together to strengthen their support of sex assault victims. The university is partnering with the nearby hospital, the District Attorney’s office and law enforcement to establish two victim advocacy programs to care for sexual assault victims. The organizations also said in a statement that they are retraining their staffs.
The University of Alabama has defended its actions. “When Megan went to the hospital, a university advocate met her at the hospital to provide support and stayed with her throughout the examination process,” the school said in a statement. “Megan also received information from university representatives regarding services available to her on campus, including counseling through the university’s Women & Gender Resource Center.”
The alleged attacker has not been charged with any crime. He and his lawyer did not return PEOPLE’s calls for comment.