University of Alabama Settles Lawsuit over Student’s Suicide
The lawsuit claimed the University of Alabama denied services to and mishandled accommodations for a student who reported an alleged sexual assault.
The University of Alabama has partially settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the family of a student who committed suicide after reporting a sexual assault.
A joint statement released on Tuesday by the Tuscaloosa school and the parents of Megan Rondini says Alabama will commit $250,000 to a center that helps victims of sexual assault and $150,000 to hire more workers to handle sexual misconduct reports, according to Fox News.
“The university and the Rondinis share the desire to eliminate sexual misconduct and, in the event it does occur, provide support to the victims and hold the perpetrators accountable,” read the statement. “The University will continue to cooperate and work with local law enforcement to develop and implement law enforcement processes to investigate and prosecute crimes involving sexual assault.”
Rondini will also be awarded a degree posthumously and the school will put $50,000 into a scholarship in her memory.
The lawsuit, filed last year by Michael and Cindy Rondini for an unspecified amount of money, contended the university failed to protect Rondini from her alleged assailant, whose family is “well connected and powerful in the Tuscaloosa community, and were major financial supports of UA.”
The lawsuit also says the school violated its own policies and federal law by failing to properly assist Rondini after she reported the assault. The university is alleged to have “deliberately and repeatedly denied services and mishandled accommodations with hostility toward” Rondini, according to AL.com.
Rondini confided in a UA counselor who told her she could no longer give her therapy because she was a family friend of the alleged assailant. The second counselor she sought help from said he or she would not see her unless she first took anxiety medication, says the lawsuit.
It also claims authorities sided with the alleged assailant’s version of events and that an investigating officer was more interested in finding out whether Rondini committed any crimes on the night of the alleged rape.
The alleged assailant was named in the lawsuit but has not been charged with a crime. He claims the sexual encounter was consensual. Last year, his attorneys placed a full-page ad in The Tuscaloosa News, indicating messages sent between him and Rondini before the encounter showed it was consensual.
A deputy has asked a judge to dismiss the claims against him and other law enforcement officers named in the suit. The judge handling the case has not yet made a decision.
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