Wednesday, November 15, 2006
AA Step May Yield Jail Term
Recovering Alcoholic's Apology For Two-Decade-Old Rape Brings Prosecution
November 15, 2006
By KRISTEN GELINEAU, Associated Press
A man who sexually assaulted a fellow student at a fraternity party in 1984, then apologized to her two decades later as part of the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program, pleaded guilty Tuesday and could go to prison.
William Beebe, 41, calmly entered a plea to aggravated sexual battery as his victim, Liz Seccuro of Greenwich, Conn., bowed her head and wiped away tears.
"Twenty-two years ago I harmed another person, and I have tried to set that right," the real estate agent and former University of Virginia student said outside court.
Under the plea bargain, prosecutors asked that Beebe get two years in prison when he is sentenced in March.
Prosecutor Claude Worrell said authorities agreed to the deal in part because the investigation revealed that more than one person may have sexually assaulted Seccuro at the party. Beebe agreed to cooperate with the investigation into what happened to Seccuro that night.
The ninth step in AA's 12-step recovery program calls on alcoholics to make amends to those they have harmed. Last year, Beebe wrote Seccuro a letter of apology, and an exchange of e-mails ensued, in which he wrote: "I want to make clear that I'm not intentionally minimizing the fact of having raped you. I did."
In December, Seccuro called Charlottesville police to report what had happened. Beebe was arrested in Las Vegas.
It was unclear whether Beebe knew he could still be prosecuted for the crime in Virginia, which has no statute of limitations on felonies. Beebe and his attorney refused to answer questions outside court.
Seccuro went public with her name and story, hoping to lead other sexual assault survivors to seek help.
On the one hand, way to take sexual assault seriously!
On the other hand, no good deed goes unpunished.
On the other other hand, two measly years for ruining someone's life? maybe one could take sexual assault a little more seriously.
On the other other other hand - there's really NO statute of limitations on felonies in Virginia? uh-oh...
jeez, you'd have to be a whole family of octopi to have enough "other hands" for this.
I wonder if this news story will inhibit other twelve-steppers, or somehow cause them to skip or weasel out of the ninth step. What does AA HQ (if there is one) have to say about this?
I have to say, I'm a little worried about the precedent this sets. if the 39-year-old me is ever brought up before the magistrate to answer for crimes committed by the 18-year-old me, I'm not sure how well I'd fare, frankly. the fact that my youthful indiscretions did not include raping my classmates doesn't do much to assuage my guilty (and now a little fearful) conscience.
I seem to remember reading somewhere that Ms. Securro was seventeen and a virgin at the time of the rape, and that she thinks someone put something in her drink, and that she went to the authorities who blew her off, as was common at the time.
So, one side of this coin is - wow, isn't it great that sexual assault is taken much more seriously now than 22 years ago! What progress! isn't it great that women finally can see justice done! Hooray, the system works!
But the flip side is - dude, she's wrestled with this for two decades, and he gets two lousy years and then he's done? he's clean? it's all over? how does that even come close to fair? How is that justice? shit, the system sucks, just like it always did.
and then the other side is (damn, I ran out of sides, just like I ran out of hands)-
I sure as hell hope the system doesn't work so well for my criminal ass...
let him go after two years in the pokey with nary a follow-up except for parole.
we're kind of fucked up, collectively speaking.
on edit; on the other hand, if the victim -herself- turned him in, i feel a lot colder about him and the whole situation; i think ultimately it's really up to her to determine what is and isn't sufficient to "make amends."
at first read for some reason i had assumed that some third party had stepped in without the victim's go-ahead, which idea pissed me off.
but well, hey, if she wants to prosecute, prosecute away, I say.
it does kind of suck wrt AA and such, but...well, saying "I'm sorry" doesn't really suffice, frankly, for something on that level.
since the woman's alive, again, the harm done is ultimately on her say so. clearly she still felt sufficiently strongly that she went ahead and pressed charges, even after all this time. i guess he did leave a vivid imprint on her, at that.
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 Seccuro, I was a virgin. It was set up in advance (twice!) by a person I trusted. I was drugged. My life was derailed, but I would not tell (jeeze, it was the "sixties"). I could not even bring myself to confront the rapist. Nobody can imagine what I went through ... depression, repressed memories, flashbacks for 43 years. This monster belongs behind bars for the malevolent tactics he used to dehumanize me and other unsuspecting women. Instead, he golfs, plays gin and sips his scotch.
As with any rapist, lies the incessant need to overpower, but "JD"'s single most compelling reason for the degradation of women:
"the constant and overwhelming struggle to convince himself that he liked girls, and to prove his masculinity to the brotherhood"
Aww, the good ol' days in Atlanta! Dodd Stadium, the Varsity Drive-In, Hank & Jerry's, Witts Inn, Aunt Fanny's Cabin. Such innocence. Date rape drugs didn't exist? Wrong! Anyone can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
apparently, according to wikipedia, experiments with GHB for various purposes began in 1964.
and of course, there's the time-honored classic, the Mickey Finn:
The Mickey Finn is reputedly named for the owner and bartender of a Chicago establishment, the Lone Star Saloon and Palm Garden Restaurant, which operated from 1896 to 1903...The act of serving a Mickey Finn Special was a coordinated robbery orchestrated by Finn. First, Finn or one of his employees, which included "house girls", would slip a drug (Chloral Hydrate) in the unsuspecting patron's drink. The incapacitated patron would be escorted or carried into a back room by one of Finn's associates who would then rob the victim and dump him in an alley. Upon awaking the next morning in a nearby alley, the victim would remember nothing.
so yeah, the history of knockout drops or other incapacitating substances is long.
that is certainly true. so, yeah, prosecute away if you can.
but why only two years? doesn't he get docked for being a fugitive or something?
Americans tend to have an exaggerated faith in apologies qua apologies. If an apology is going to mean anything at all, it has to mean making yourself vulnerable to another person's judgement, because you accept (in this particular case) theirs over yours. If that judgement includes prosecution, or some other form of atonement, so be it. Otherwise the AA program becomes oddly self-centered, with the alcoholic apologizing but being closed off to any response.
The sentence appears fair. Two years is not a reasonable sentence is most cases of aggravated sexual battery; this is not most cases. The leniency of the sentence helps keep the precedent from being absolutely paralyzing to people who want to do what Beebe did: cooperate in another rape investigation, recover from an illness (alcoholism) that may have been a factor in the crime, apologize the victim, and plead guilty to her charges.
What the Georgia Tech rape victim describes is a different situation, without mitigating factors (except time). My sympathies are with her.
do stories like this one help you personally heal at all, or do nothing for you?
On the flip side--and I am not saying that this is what's happening in this instance--we also tend to put waayyyy too much stock in the idea that -punishment- really helps.
-Cause and effect- are important, it seems to me; having to take the consequences for hurting someone, sure. also, yes, some people really do need to be kept off the streets, although not -nearly- as many as the ones who are actually penned up, I'd say (and of course their time inside generally makes them -less- suited to life in the "real world.")
but yeah, i think a lot of people get vengeance and justice all mixed up. i'm not saying i'm holier-than and have never felt the urge toward or even engaged in vengeance; just, i think it's important to distinguish one from the other. know thyself, in other words.
On the other hand she has delt with it for two deck-ades and still can deal with her life. Why didn't she go to the cops as soon as she got the letter. I think I know why, she didn't know that the law was inforcable after 20 years, until some one told her the she jumped on it!
I think under these events I would like to say... I am a man and I'm sorry! Its guys like these that give guys like me a bad rap. This man also should not be seen as the scum of the earth be cause that place is held for our very own Vice President. And what about all the other individauls that took part in said rape? They are worse then him... right?
Never was a big 12-step fan ...
I think that is correct, but I think the implication is "more harm TO OTHERS", not necessarily to yourself.
but yeah, ax, I had that thought too.
I am very glad people are choosing to discuss this topic!
Yes, and I love that fact that if I want to look up an old classmate or sorority sister, I must go through the alumni online link with about 10 passwords, because, ahem, "it's all about security and privacy" but a rapist who dropped out of school his second year, not an alum, can just ring up the office and track me for nine years. These are his own words to me in an email.
Your comments on my blog would be much appreciated.
No offense but are you kidding me? I broke into Shea Stadium when I was 24 and ran around the bases. I didn't call my ex girlfriend when I broke up with her. When I become an alcoholic, I will apologize to the Mets and to her. But what "good deed" did this guy really do? He rightfully felt guilty, and finally admitted to raping an innocent girl. I am a 35-year-old man. Liz S. is doing the right thing. My only regrets are it took WAY too long for justice to be served, and the punishment is way too small. If Liz reads this, I just want you to know that you are a very strong woman, and I applaud you. You should hold your head up high, not many women would be as strong as you.
Now come again - whose at fault?
In A.A. we are called to examine the cost to our victim and all that may be affected. We are called to harm no one in making our amends. More harm was done by this amends, as more people were harmed than in the beginning of this act of Rape. With true forgiveness there is healing, and that is what we all wont. Virgil
if you have any ideas or know of any resources feel free to email me at Jenisux@hotmail.com