Donald V. Watkins
Achieving Justice For Rape Victims
By Donald V. Watkins ©Copyrighted and Published on June 4, 2018
I have learned more about the plight of women in our society during the past twelve months than I ever knew prior to my reporting on the Megan Rondini and Brittany Luckenbaugh rape cases in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
I knew that male privilege existed in our society and that males are rarely held accountable for their sexual abuse of women. I just did not realize the magnitude of male privilege until I investigated the Rondini and Luckenbaugh rape cases.
I have never understood why men who professed to love their mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and granddaughters tolerate the widespread sexual abuse of women. Personally, I do not tolerate or normalize this sexual misconduct for any reason.
The Megan Rondini and Brittany Luckenbaugh rape cases also provided me with a much-needed personal education on how many men view rapes and sexual assaults as "no big deal". Some men who portray themselves as dedicated law enforcement officials also hold this pathetic attitude.
Megan Rondini, a University of Alabama honors student, committed suicide on February 26, 2016. Terry Jackson “Sweet T” Bunn, Jr., the designated “suspect” in Megan’s July 2, 2015 rape case, escaped criminal justice because his family had the right connections to The University of Alabama, to Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy, and to former Tuscaloosa County District Attorney Lyn Head. These relationships, which were nurtured and maintained with Bunn family donor money, paved the way for the Sweet T to gain his freedom from a rape prosecution, once again.
Brittany Luckenbaugh is a 22-year-old University of Alabama student was gang-raped in Tuscaloosa on the night of her birthday (March 28, 2018). Tuscaloosa County District Attorney Hays Webb refused to prosecute the three men who Brittany accused of raping her.
On May 11, 2018, Brittany shared her story with the world in the hope that it might save other women who have been raped and sexually assaulted. By doing so, she bravely showed other rape victims the pathway forward.
Tomorrow, Alabama voters will have an opportunity to make important changes in Alabama’s criminal justice system. We have an opportunity to help rape and sexual assault victims achieve the criminal justice they deserve.
Alabamians who respect women and the sanctity of their bodies will have a chance to retire incumbent Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall. He is running in the Republican Primary for a full-term in office.
Former Alabama governor/convicted criminal Robert Bentley handpicked Steve Marshall for the AG’s job in April 2017. Later that year, Marshall rewarded Bentley by allowing him to escape a criminal prosecution on four felony ethics charges. Marshall authorized and agreed to Bentley’s guilty plea to “no-jail-time” misdemeanors. This was the “sweetheart” plea deal of the year.
Steve Marshall has shown zero interest in protecting the rights of women who have been sexually abused and raped. He is the recognized champion of male privilege in Alabama.
Attorney Alice Martin is challenging Steve Marshall in the Republican Primary. Alice Martin is not afraid to fight for rape and sexual assault victims. She has also been relentless in her fight against public corruption.
I am encouraging all Alabama voters who want to see well-connected rapists and powerful crooks prosecuted to join me in voting for Alice Martin in tomorrow’s Republican Primary.
Ms. Martin has demonstrated by her impressive body of work as a federal and state prosecutor that she is a strong and effective advocate for the fair administration of justice and integrity in government. She is also a remarkable woman, proud mother of three daughters, loving wife, and attorney.
None of us will ever know all of the personal sacrifices Ms. Martin has made in order to champion the public’s right to honest government services and fair justice in Alabama. Whatever those sacrifices were, Ms. Martin willingly made them for the good of all Alabamians. She has never sought praise or credit for her work in fighting public corruption in Alabama. Her focus has been on delivering the results the public deserves.
Ms. Martin and I met on the battlefield of law only once -- in 2003 during the high profile, landmark case of USA v. Richard Scrushy. At the time, Scrushy was the first CEO of a New Stock Exchange and Fortune 500 company who was charged with Sarbanes-Oxley accounting fraud violations. The United States government brought an 85-count criminal indictment against Scrushy in a $2.7 billion accounting fraud case. By the time Scrushy’s case was tried, Ms. Martin had successfully obtained the first criminal conviction in the nation under Sarbanes-Oxley and seventeen convictions of HealthSouth corporate officers for various acts of fraud and other criminal violations.
Ms. Martin and I fought each other in Scrushy’s case for two long years. Unlike most of today’s weak and timid prosecutors, Ms. Martin actually led her troops onto battle and bled with them on the battlefield. She actively participated in the pre-trial hearings and examined witnesses during the five-month trial. She directed the government’s litigation strategies and in-court battles, from start to finish. She was a fierce, skilled, smart, and well-trained adversary.
I am not (and never have been) a “guilty plea” lawyer. Whenever I enter the courtroom, I am there to fight until victory is secured. Losing is not an acceptable option. This qualifies me to judge my adversaries on the basis of their fighting skills, intellectual acumen, and courage on the battlefield. In this regard, Ms. Martin was one of the best adversaries I have ever fought during my forty-five year legal career.
My legal team won Scrushy’s criminal case in 2005 only because the totality of evidence supported his acquittal on all counts. Even though Ms. Martin and her team of prosecutors fought gallantly in this case, the trial jurors were sworn to base their verdicts on the evidence of Scrushy’s innocence and not Ms. Martin’s gallantry.
During her eight years of service as a federal prosecutor, from 2001 to 2009, Ms. Martin was recognized nationally for a top ranked Healthcare Fraud Task Force which returned over $750 million in qui tam settlements/recoveries to the U. S. Treasury, as well as the North Alabama Public Corruption Task Force which obtained over 125 convictions of elected/appointed officials and contractors including Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford, five of six Jefferson County commissioners (i.e., Chris McNair, Gary L. White, John Katopodis, Jeff Germany, and Mary M. Buckelew), the Chancellor of Alabama Post-Secondary (Roy Johnson) and several state legislators. She also oversaw the successful prosecution of Eric Robert Rudolph, who was the FBI's Most Wanted domestic terrorist for his bombing of a Birmingham abortion clinic.
As Chief Deputy Attorney General, Ms. Martin and Special Prosecutions Division Chief Matt Hart successfully brought former House Speaker Mike Hubbard to justice on felony ethics charges despite stiff opposition from Governor Robert Bentley and a cabal of human-shield legislators protecting Hubbard.
Like society in general, law is a male-dominated profession. Yet, Alice Martin found a way to achieve phenomenal success as a federal and state prosecutor in a legal arena that often crushes most female attorneys. In the process, she became the people’s warrior.
I think Alice Martin is one of the best prosecutors in Alabama history. When objective observers look at Ms. Martin’s impressive track record of convictions in over 125 public corruption cases, they will conclude, as I did, that she approached these prosecutions on a non-partisan, gender-neutral, and race-neural basis. Her loyalty was to the rule of law, without fear or favor.
No prosecutor in Alabama today has Ms. Martin’s portfolio of earned credentials. No prosecutor on the scene today has Ms. Martin’s tenacity, perseverance, focus, intellectual acumen, and ability to bounce back from adversity.
For all of these reasons, Alice Martin has earned my respect and my vote. We can change things for the better for rape and sexual assault victims by voting for Alice Martin for Attorney General.
PHOTO: Alice Martin, Republican candidate for Alabama Attorney General.