Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Rape victim rejects 9th step "amends"

A woman who was raped at a college frat party in 1984 rejected the offender's bid to "make amends" under the ninth step of the Alcoholics Anonymous program.

Liz Seccuro (photo), 39, together with her husband and a number of sorority sisters, stood in a Charlottesville court room yesterday and avoided the eyes of her assailant, William Beebe. Outside court, Seccuro said tearfully, "I think that the idea of closure for any victim of a sexual assault is not reality. There is never closure."

Beebe sent Seccuro a letter last year confessing to the rape as part of his AA ninth step work, which requires "making amends" to persons harmed. After several email exchanges, Seccuro turned the correspondence over to prosecutors, who had Beebe extradited from his home in Nevada and brought to stand trial in Virginia. Beebe may not have known at the time he sent his letter that there is no statute of limitations for felonies in Virginia.

In court, Beebe pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of aggravated sexual battery, and will face a possible two years in prison. He was originally charged with rape and sexual penetration with an object, charges that carried the possibility of life in prison.

Seccuro spoke out about her experience and founded an organization called STARS -- Sisters Together Assisting Rape Survivors -- to raise money for programs helping rape victims and their families. Read Liz Seccuro's story in her own words here.

Epilogue, Jan. 25 2007: More details of the crime, Seccuro's feelings following court hearings: Rapist's quest for forgiveness revives victim's worst nightmare, here.


Suzanne/Hospicechick said...

I think Liz Seccuro will never have closure over her rape. Without forgiveness, we give our tormentor all the power and are stuck in a world of bitterness that never leaves us. I forgave my rapist, and now I have peace in my life. I stopped drinking and doing drugs, and other destructive things it led to. Am I friends with my rapist? No. But I don't have to be to forgive him. Only to take my power back and live in the present.

Anonymous said...

Let me clarify - "closure" in the sense that the memory never goes away. I am sorry for has happened to you, Suzanne. Forgiveness is a personal journey and I do forgive William Beebe. I am not bitter, except when I have to defend my own agenda, which is simply putting a rapist in front of a Judge. When the media takes a sound byte and puts it out there, one never knows the full story.

This is not a story about recovery or the 12 Steps, but a crime.

I applaud those who take sobriety as a choice. In any way. Now that is taking one's power back!

Anonymous said...

I was raped by a priest when I was 11 years old. I am a man.

The way this woman handled this made me sick. She struck me as an overprivileged control freak bitter not so much about having been raped, but because someone dared take a moment of control away from her during her Virginia plantation, all-girls' school, sorority girl life.

Rape is not murder. Anyone who says "there is no closure" CHOOSES not to have closure. And they deserve the second dose of misery that they bring on themselves.

Anonymous said...

Wow. The misogyny reminds me that our work is not done, and the Christian notion of forgiveness has done more harm to victims than almost anything else I've seen.

It's not necessary to forgive to move on. One simply has to recognize that one is done with that moment or relationship, and walk on. But no, forgiveness is not necessary. Judgment will do fine.

Anonymous said...

Being on both side of this debate, the emotions provoked by this incident are rampant. I would like to offer my experience with this subject. The purpose of a ninth step is to accept/acknowledge accountability for ones actions, thereby dealing with the quilt and shame invoked by the action. While minor compared to the victim, it nevertheless exists and can cause some very destructive behaviors.
whether or not the other person accepts an attempt to make amends is not the concern.
Having said that, I know the destructive power anger and hurt has. I had to forgive the people who caused me harm. Not the events but the person. It helped to pray for them and to consider the possibility that, like me, it was an action they did not understand.
Am I/them accountable for the action? Yes. Responsible for the action, in terms of being completely aware of the ramifactions(sic), is often open to question.
Take it for what it is worth.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if there might be another scandal, or perhaps even a storm, insidiously brewing over something tangentially linked to those (in)famous "Twelve Steps" ? I can only wonder where it might go or how it will simply spin out of control. We live in a dysfunctional society and have political/legal system drowning in the vortex of it's own irrational hypocrisy.

Omar Bongo said...

This Beebe bozo seems as if he just wanted attention and was not contrite at all. He only thought of himself when he contacted her out of the blue. He has no idea of what a chain of events he set into motion. Her story has a lot of merit and is a wonderful human interest story. However, I am sure that the corporate media picked up on it for ulterior motives. Watergate started with a burglary and it spun out of control. At one point in Watergate, Woodward and Bernstein inadvertantly compromised ongoing operations in the intelligence community.
I think Mrs. Seccuro knows that her story was picked up by the corporate media for ulterior motives. She's a very smart lady. She knows very well that this incident has more complex ramifications. I do wish her and her famly well in the future.

Anonymous said...

Liz, I can not understand your comments that you forgive the person, but you still want "the monster" to be punished.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines forgiveness as 'to grant free pardon and to give up all claim on account of an offense or debt'.

The above definition implies that forgiveness automatically carries a pardon.
Liz, I hope that one day you can truly forgive and put this ugly incident behind you, because in spite of all your causes, you still seem to be in desperate pain.
Peace be with you.

Anonymous said...

William Beebe committed a horrible crime, and he has paid a debt to society for what he did. That's justice. It was a long time coming, but it is justice nonetheless.

Forgiveness? That's an entirely separate matter, entirely personal to Liz Seccuro. It is not for anyone else to preach to her about what it should entail.

Gayle said...

I think that Liz is a very brave women. She should be commended for her courage and not criticized for her actions.

This lady had the guts to do what she felt was right. She wasn't pressured into a false forgiveness that she wasn't comfortable with.

Instead, she made a decision that she could live with. Whether she forgives him or not isn't any of our business.

Emailing with a rapist, facing him in court, not caving into pressure takes courage. She seems to have that by the bucketful.

Well done, Liz.

Anonymous said...

I am shocked at the responses on here!! This women took her life back and put this piece of garbage in jail where he belongs. To question her idea of forgiveness is ABSURD!!! A lot of these comments are coming from people who have not been raped and sounds like a bunch of AA Assholes. As usual not taking responsibility for there lives. That's AA for ya!

Anonymous said...

He shouldn't of made that amends, ones like that with no statute of limitations should never be made and you have to give it to your higher power everyday, maybe multiple times a day. If you are not in a 12 step program or are not familiar with one then you will not understand what this man did. You can sit here and take both of their inventories, but that wont make your life better or safer. This man did something he regrets, probably has been reliving it everyday with a pit in his chest. He did this when he was not himself, no active alcoholic is themselves. The man who stood trial was a vastly different man who committed this act, so much changes inside of you when you get sober and even more so when you work the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I am sorry that something like this happens more often than people would like to admit to both men and women, I am not defending the act, just that this amend was not carried out properly and his sponsor advised him poorly.

Anonymous said...

"This man did something he regrets, probably has been reliving it everyday with a pit in his chest"

Oh that poor poor rapist. I'm so sorry to hear about his pain and suffering far in excess of the felony he committed against a human being.

No sympathy. He's in jail where he belongs. Most rapists don't stop with one rape.

Anonymous said...

To often the law doesn't do anything. This is a good ending .