NEWS- Beebe's motion: Says 22-year-old rape charge violates due process

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, "I harmed you: 22 years and 12 steps later, rape apology backfires," Beebe was a 19-year-old second-year UVA student 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– as part of his recovery process, contacted Seccuro by mail to apologize.

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. After a preliminary hearing, he was freed on $30,000 bond in March, and since then, he has lived with friends in Richmond, awaiting his November trial.

However, Quagliana– who has said Beebe's words do not amount to a confession, but 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, and a journal she testified keeping at the time of the incident, which has also been 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 any Seccuro visit.

Both Quagliana and Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Claude Worrell decline comment on the motion. However, contacted by email, Seccuro calls the motion "defense posturing." Evidence from the time exists, Seccuro has also said, including a long-sealed 5-page report kept by UVA that includes interviews with potential witnesses– one of whom  allegedly saw so much blood at the scene to think "there had been a shooting or something of that sort."

Whether a Charlottesville judge believes Beebe's right to "due process" is being violated remains to be seen. A hearing on the motion is set for September 28. However, there is precedent for successful prosecutions decades after crimes have been committed.

After detective Mark Fuhrman's 1998 book, Murder in Greenwich, called him the killer, Kennedy family cousin Michael Skakel, by then 42, was convicted in 2002 of the 1975 Halloween night killing of his childhood neighbor, Martha Moxley, and 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, citing the statute of limitations.

That court rejected Skakel's appeal in January. 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.

William N. Beebe in his January 4 mugshot