By: AnnaLise Coble 

A life cut short by a broken system.

That’s the heartbreaking story behind the death of a Texas college student. Two years later, her family is fighting to give a voice to future victims.

Texas congressman Ted Poe recently told Megan Rondini's story.

In Megan's freshman year, she was raped. Her attacker was questioned, but never arrested. And the hospital lacked the proper staff and equipment to collect evidence.

"Megan Rondini, of Austin, Texas, went to school at the University of Alabama," said Poe. She went to the Sheriff's Department to report this crime. The Sheriff's Department treated her like she was a criminal. She went to the hospital and the hospital really botched up the sexual assault examination.”

Megan transferred to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas to escape the pain, but it became too great.

That's why Mike Rondini, Megan's father, said his 20-year-old daughter took her own life.

"We hope there isn't another Megan, that there isn't anybody that's mistreated in that regard," Rondini said.

Congressman Poe and Rondini have been working together to honor Megan’s memory and help future victims.

Poe has introduced national legislation called the Megan Rondini Act, a bill that would require hospitals to have Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners on staff at all times or have a system in place that allows rape victims to be  transferred to one that does.

Pamela Ortega, the Sexual Assault Program Coordinator at The East Texas Crisis Center says Tyler hospitals already have a similar process in place. But victims in surrounding counties have to make the drive to Tyler.

"In 2017, the crisis center served 331 survivors of sexual assault and 214 of those clients were hospital calls," Ortega said. "So that's how many clients we saw in the hospital who had just been assaulted. And that's pretty high; I think it's gone up every year."

Ortega thinks more survivors will seek help if they have quick access to help.

"I think it would be really important because I think maybe it could increase funding if this act goes through, increase funding in hospitals so they can get a S.A.N.E. Nurse," Ortega said. "So that way the survivor doesn't have to take an hour drive or two hour drive in order to get the kit done.”

Rondini believes the bill will give sexual assault survivors the help they need and the justice they deserve.

As originally published in East Texas Matters