NEWS- Early release: Beebe to go free next month

Liz Seccuro speaks outside Charlottesville Circuit Court following William Beebe's March 2007 sentencing.

Although back in March Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Edward Hogshire sentenced William N. Beebe to 10 years behind bars– with all but 18 months suspended– it seems Beebe won't serve even that abbreviated sentence for his role in a 1984 sexual assault in a fraternity house. In fact, the Hook has learned Beebe is now counting the days until his release, which has been officially scheduled for 8am on September 17. He will have served six months and two days.

How can Beebe– considered legally to be a violent sex offender– be released so quickly?

Beebe's parole officer, Jeff Leonard, declined comment, and Beebe's attorney, Rhonda Quagliana, did not immediately return the Hook's call. Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Claude Worrell, who prosecuted Beebe, says that the 42-year-old former real estate agent was sentenced under guidelines in force at the time of his crime, nearly 23 years ago.

At that time, people convicted of even violent offenses were eligible for discretionary parole after serving a small fraction of their sentence, and parole became mandatory after just one-third of the sentence had been served. Governor George Allen– who ran for office in 1994 on a platform of abolishing parole and revamping a system he recently called "lenient and dishonest"– made good on his promise during his first year in office.

The case made international news after Beebe, a recovering alcoholic, contacted his victim, Liz Seccuro, to apologize as part of a 12-step program. As detailed in a January 2006 Hook cover story in which Seccuro first went public, Beebe sent a letter of apology to Seccuro at her Greenwich, Connecticut home. "I harmed you," he wrote. In later emails, Beebe eventually admitted to raping Seccuro, although once she took that admission to the police, Beebe back-pedaled, and his lawyer termed the assault a "too-much-to-drink college sex event."

Seccuro declined comment on Beebe's release. However, it's the second surprise for her in the last month. In early July, police and prosecutors revealed they would no longer pursue an investigation into other attacks on Seccuro that allegedly occurred the same night in the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house.

Upon his release, Beebe plans to move to Florida, where he has already registered as a sex offender.

"I crossed a line in the standards of conduct with Liz Seccuro," said William Beebe in November 2006. "I regretted that conduct immediately afterward and since. I always wanted to find some form of effective closure for both of us."