BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A judge has ordered Donald Watkins, a noted Alabama attorney who was recently sentenced to prison on fraud convictions, to pay $1.5 million to an Alabama-based political consultant and his company regarding allegations he made against them involving a deceased University of Alabama student.
The judgement came Friday from Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court Judge Allen W. May. In 2017, political consultant Joe Perkins filed a defamation lawsuit against Watkins, who alleged in Facebook posts and a website that Perkins and his company, Matrix, purposefully attempted to silence the family of Megan Rodini, a UA student who committed suicide in 2016 after alleging she was raped by TJ Bunn, Jr., of Tuscaloosa the previous year.
Among other things, Watkins alleged that Perkins worked with The Tuscaloosa News to publish a story about the Rondini case and that Matrix worked to sabotage both the investigation into Rondini’s allegations, as well as tampered with his Facebook and Wikipedia pages.
Plaintiff argued that Watkins never provided any evidence for his claims and was liable for defamation.
Bunn has denied the allegations and no criminal charges have ever been brought against him. Recently, the Alabama Supreme Court cleared the way for Rondini’s family to file a wrongful death suit against Bunn.