Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Twelve Steps of Prosecution

This really irks my ire:

Full text follows:

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A 12-step apology leads to a guilty plea
POSTED: 1:19 p.m. EST, November 14, 2006

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia (AP) -- A man who sexually assaulted a fellow University of Virginia student in 1984 and then apologized to her two decades later as part of the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program pleaded guilty to the crime Tuesday.

"This began as an effort to make amends," William Beebe said in a statement outside of court. "Twenty-two years ago I harmed another person and I have tried to set that right."

Beebe, 41, of Las Vegas, Nevada, entered his plea in Charlottesville Circuit Court to one count of aggravated sexual battery for assaulting Liz Seccuro during a party at a fraternity house.

Under AA's ninth step, alcoholics are advised to make amends to those they've harmed. Last year, Beebe -- a member of AA -- decided to write Seccuro a letter to make amends for assaulting her.

Seccuro, 39 and living in Greenwich, Connecticut, said Beebe's letter reopened old wounds when it arrived in September 2005. She eventually replied to his letter and the two entered into a two-month e-mail correspondence.

In their e-mails, which Seccuro provided to The Associated Press, Beebe told Seccuro he had long been haunted by what he had done, and wanted to atone for having harmed her.

But Seccuro became upset when his account did not match with her memory of the assault, which she describes as violent and savage. She was 17 years old and still a virgin when Beebe attacked her, she said.

In December, Seccuro called Charlottesville police to report what had happened. As there is no statute of limitations on felonies in Virginia, Beebe was arrested in Las Vegas and extradited to Virginia.

Beebe had been scheduled to face trial November 27 on charges of rape and object sexual penetration. He could have faced life in prison if convicted of those charges.

Prosecutor Claude Worrell told the court that one of the main reasons his office agreed to a plea is because the investigation revealed that more than one person may have assaulted Seccuro.

Under the agreement, the state recommended that Beebe serve two years in prison. Formal sentencing is set for March 15. Beebe will remain free on bond until then.

During his court appearance Tuesday, Beebe glanced at Seccuro often, his expression almost serene. Seccuro -- flanked by her former sorority sisters and husband -- stared straight ahead, avoiding his gaze.

When Beebe entered his plea -- "guilty as charged" -- Seccuro bowed her head and wiped away tears.

Outside of court Tuesday, Seccuro said tearfully, "I think that the idea of closure for any victim of a sexual assault is not reality. There is never closure.

Seccuro went public with her name and story, hoping to inspire other sexual assault survivors to seek help. She launched a donor fund called STARS -- Sisters Together Assisting Rape Survivors -- to raise money for programs helping rape victims and their families.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. [sorry, AP]
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First, two points:
1) William Beebe did the right thing by apologizing for his actions and taking responsibility, and
2) Liz Seccuro had every right to take William Beebe to court and seek prosecution.

But this situation is sad. Making every effort toward sensitivity, I can't understand why Mrs. Seccuro would prosecute Mr. Beebe after 21 years because he tried to make amends. Let's clarify: I understand fully why Mrs. Seccuro would prosecute Mr. Beebe. But why *only* after he tried to do the right thing?

I suppose Mr. Beebe should have left his apology at that, rather than try and argue with his victim about the details. Some would say it was stupid of him to even come clean in the first place; I'm not in that camp. It takes a lot of courage to admit you've done wrong, especially if such an admission has legal ramifications. As a person with problems of my own, and plenty of my own skeletons, I can respect that.

I suppose Mrs. Seccuro could have pressed charges in 1984. But I will never experience the fear of rape, so I can only give her the benefit of the doubt. It takes a lot of courage to go public with such a violation, to tell the world you were raped, with the implications that come with not having pursued it. As a person who has lived with shame and cowered in fear of exposure, I can respect that.

But this story still unsettles me. My comments will end, though, by putting myself in neither Mrs. Seccuro's nor Mr. Beebe's shoes, but those of Mr. Seccuro. How would I feel knowing my wife's first sexual encounter had been rape? Knowing that the woman I loved had been violated so? What were his thoughts when he found out? What if he didn't know before the rest of us? I imagine how this man must feel, and I am left somewhat, but not completely, satisfied with the results.

1 comment:

  1. Linc, you are correct. As a man, you will never experience the fear of rape, so naturally I had to discount all the points in your post! Let me share briefly what happened to me 44 years ago. A string of skillfully executed rapes occurred in the early 1960s by an upperclassman living on fraternity row at Georgia Tech where the bond of Greek brotherhood remains every bit as unshakable today as it did in the sixties. Like Liz, I will never have closure. My rapist belongs behind bars for the malevolent tactics he used to dehumanize unsuspecting women with drugs. Certainly, as with any rapist, lies the incessant need to overpower, but this rapist struggled with a much greater personal issue -- one that created the premise for his crimes and became the single most compelling reason for the degradation of women: <"the constant and overwhelming struggle to prove his masculinity to the brotherhood">. And what a happy day it was for him when he plucked a virgin and gained instant recognition from the "brotherhood". Sign me georgia_tech_rape@yahoo.com.