Beebe seeks dismissal
Despite what appears to be a written confession, the man accused of raping a then-17-year-old UVA student 22 years ago is asking the court to throw out the charges.
In a Motion to Dismiss, filed on May 30 in Charlottesville Circuit Court, lawyers for William Nottingham Beebe claim the charges violate Beebe's Constitutional right to "due process," a clause included in the Fifth and 14th Amendments.
"Since 1984, material evidence has been destroyed, thus depriving Beebe of his ability to investigate the allegations and defend himself," writes his attorney, Rhonda Quaqliana in the motion.
As detailed in the Hook's January 12, 2006 cover story, Beebe was a 19-year-old second year at UVA in October 1984 when he allegedly raped Liz Seccuro, then a first-year known as Liz Schimpf, in the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the north end of Mad Bowl on Rugby Road. Though Seccuro reported the incident to UVA officials and spoke with UVA police, no criminal charges were pressed and two decades passed. But in September 2005, Beebe– who by then had been in Alcoholics Anonymous for more than a dozen years– contacted Seccuro by mail to apologize, part of his recovery process.
Seccuro responded, and for two months the two corresponded by email. Eventually, Beebe typed a line that changed his life– and Seccuro's– forever.
"I'm not intentionally minimizing the fact of having raped you," he wrote. "I did."
Armed with what seemed to be a confession, Seccuro contacted Charlottesville police, who– 21 years after the alleged incident– finally had enough evidence to make an arrest.
Taken into custody at his home in Las Vegas in January, Beebe waived extradition and flew to Virginia, where he was freed on $30,000 bond in March. Since then, he has lived with friends in Richmond, awaiting his November trial.
However, his attorney, Rhonda Quagliana– who has said Beebe's words do not amount to a confession, and are simply an apology for a "too-much-to-drink college sex event"– hopes that trial will never happen.
Among the material evidence that has been destroyed, according to the motion: the clothes Seccuro wore the night of the alleged assault, which she testified she burned many years later; a journal she testified keeping at the time of the incident, was also destroyed.
While Seccuro testified she was examined at the UVA student health center, the motion states the center destroys its records after 10 years, so there is no record of Seccuro's visit.
Both Quagliana and Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Claude Worrell decline comment on the motion. However, contacted by email, Seccuro calls the motion "typical defense posturing." There is much evidence dating to that time, Seccuro has also said, including a file kept by UVA that includes interviews with potential witnesses.
Whether a Charlottesville judge believes Beebe's right to "due process" is being violated remains to be seen. A hearing for the motion is set for September. However, there is precedent for successful prosecutions years after a crime was committed.
After being named the killer in O.J. Simpson trial detective Mark Fuhrman's 1998 book, Murder in Greenwich, in 2002, Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel, by then 42, was convicted for the 1975 Halloween night killing of his childhood neighbor, Martha Moxley. He was sentenced to 20 years to life. Skakel was 15 at the time of the crime, and had allegedly confessed to several people over the years. Skakel's lawyers appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court, claiming the statute of limitations had expired. That court rejected the appeal in January of this year. Former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olsen, widower of 9/11 victim and conservative political commentator Barbara Olsen, is leading Skakel's appeal to the United States Supreme Court.