Megan Rondini was a 20-year-old honors student with a 3.8 GPA at the University of Alabama when she was allegedly raped by a 34-year-old businessman, a member of a prominent Tuscaloosa family. After escaping from his home in the wee hours of July 2, 2015, she went immediately to the hospital and then the sheriff's department to report what had happened. What followed, as detailed in an extensive BuzzFeed look at the case by Katie JM Baker, ultimately led to Rondini's withdrawal from the university and her suicide in February 2016. Police seemed to doubt Rondini's story from the get-go, and to this day they maintain she did not "earnestly" resist her alleged rapist, TJ Bunn Jr., as Alabama's legal definition of rape requires. And authorities were soon turning things around on Rondini, who ultimately found herself the subject of investigation.
While trying to find her keys in her flight from Bunn's home, Rondini took $3 from his car in case she needed to take a cab. She also initially took a pistol she found in his car "for safety" and accidentally fired it while handling it. Police seized on those details, and after the district attorney initially decided not to bring Rondini's allegations against Bunn to a grand jury, that decision was later reversed in what BuzzFeed calls a "package deal"—the grand jury would also rule on felony charges against Rondini related to the money and the gun, which investigators said may have been fired into Bunn's residence. That's when Rondini dropped the civil suit she had started, withdrew from school, and moved back home to Texas, ultimately hanging herself months later. There's much more, from a university therapist's refusal to treat Rondini to investigators' failure to test Rondini to see if she had been drugged, in BuzzFeed's full article. (Read more Longform stories.)