Beebe pleads guilty to reduced charge

Beebe pleads guilty to reduced charge

Correction Appended

A man who was accused of raping a UVA woman at a fraternity party 22 years ago pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual battery Tuesday, November 14. William Beebe plea bargained for the reduced charge, which allows for up to two years imprisonment, and says he will help police find out if other fraternity members also assaulted the victim, Elizabeth Seccuro.

William Beebe pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual battery for an encounter that occurred in 1984 at a UVA frat house

Beebe had been charged with rape and object sexual penetration for an incident that occurred at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at 159 Madison Ln. in 1984. Sexual contact occurred between then 19-year-old Beebe and a 17-year-old first-year student, Elizabeth Schimpf (her maiden name). For the rape charge, Beebe could have received life in prison.

Beebe contacted Seccuro, now married, about the incident decades later because he was going through a 12-step program for alcoholism and wanted to apologize. The two began phone conversations about the incident last year and disagreed over whether a rape had occurred. In December, Seccuro called police and reported the rape. There is no statute of limitations on felonies in Virginia.

Seccuro claims she did not notify law enforcement earlier because she was urged by University officials at the time not to report the incident to the Charlottesville police. UVA has since amended its sexual assault policies, though the dean who assisted Seccuro at the time has said he acted appropriately.

Useful to the prosecution was an e-mail from Beebe to Seccuro in which he apologized for the incident. “I’m not intentionally minimizing the fact of having raped you. I did,” he wrote.

Seccuro made an appearance on “Dateline NBC” discussing her ordeal. She has also penned letters to C-VILLE Weekly championing her position as a victim and has pointed out that she is unable to sue Beebe. “I can sue no one. That ship sailed in 1986, as there is a two-year statute of limitations on civil damages for this crime. I am here only as a witness for the Commonwealth and a voice for all victims of rape who have been silenced,” Seccuro wrote.

Beebe’s sentencing has been scheduled for March 15 of next year. He is free on bond until that date.

The case may not end with Beebe’s conviction, though. Investigators have said they will try to find out if more than one person sexually assaulted Seccuro that night; she has said in previous statements that she was gang raped. Beebe has agreed to provide information that could lead to other arrests, and said in a statement following his conviction, “Twenty-two years ago last month, I crossed a line in the standards of conduct with Liz Seccuro. …I always wanted to find some form of effective closure for both of us.”

Correction: Dec. 12, 2006

Recent coverage of the William Beebe case [“Beebe pleads guilty to reduced charge,” Courts & Crime News, November 21] misstated the type of contact that Beebe and Liz Seccuro had about a sexual encounter that occurred between them at UVA in 1984. They did not, in fact, begin phone conversations last year nor did they disagree over whether a rape had occurred, as reported. Their correspondence was over e-mail, and, while the two held differing views about the incident, they did not specifically have a disagreement over whether it was rape, according to Seccuro, who contacted C-VILLE about this correction.

Additionally, C-VILLE reported that Seccuro claimed she did not notify law enforcement before December 2005 because University officials told her not to go to the Charlottesville police. In fact, Seccuro says, she did notify law enforcement, specifically the UVA police, directly following the incident. UVA officials have said they cannot locate that report.



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