Judge Dismisses Libel Suit Against BuzzFeed Megan Rodini Article
US District Court Judge R. David Proctor on Tuesday, March 15, dismissed a libel suit from a Tuscaloosa County Police Officer and Sheriff's Deputy regarding an article from Buzzfeed about former University of Alabama student Megan Rodini's case in 2015.
In a memo written regarding the case, Judge Proctor said Buzzfeed wasn't trying to defame the officers in question but rather to look at how to change the handling of sexual assault allegations.
Judge Proctor stated "...A biased agenda is not equivalent to defamation. Here, Defendants’ agenda was not to speak ill of Plaintiffs. Rather, Defendants’ agenda was to influence systematic change in how sexual assault allegations are treated nationwide by police, hospitals, state legislatures, district attorney’s offices, universities, and the public," Judge Proctor said.
For those unfamiliar with the case, Megan Rodini was a student at the University of Alabama in 2015 who accused TJ Bunn, affiliated with ST Bunn Construction, of rape. A grand jury ultimately decided not to charge Bunn.
Rodini then transferred away from Alabama and took her own life in 2016.
In 2017, BuzzFeed published an article alleging mistreatment of Rodini by the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa County Investigators, and DCH Regional Medical Center.
In 2019, Tuscaloosa Police Officer Adam Jones and Tuscaloosa Sheriff's Deputy Joshua Hastings filed a libel suit against Buzzfeed claiming that "The article depicts both Hastings and Jones as corrupt law enforcement officers whose sub-standard and illegal investigative conduct eventually played a significant role in Ms. Rondini committing suicide." The lawsuit also stated that “These allegations were contrived, baseless and false.”
Stay tuned to the Tuscaloosa Thread as the story continues to develop.