Charlottesville Breaking News

UVA crime: Bill would yank big cases from campus cops

news-uvagardenwsusankathrynrussellSusan Russell began advocating soon after her daughter reported getting raped at UVA in 2004.

When a serious crime occurs on campus, who should investigate? A bill making its way through the Virginia legislature would strip campus police departments of their authority over murder and rape investigations, and would require local police to take the lead–- something some victim advocates believe would result in more thorough investigations of the most serious crimes.

"In my mind, the local police are highly trained–- they have a Special Victims Unit, have people dedicated to that particular type of task," says sexual assault victim advocate Susan Russell, founder of the website and a...

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Painful memoir: 12-step rape victim's book hits shelves

news-seccurobookLiz Seccuro's first book, a memoir of her 1984 rape and a two-decade later apology and prosecution, hit shelves January 3.

It's been five-and-a-half years since Liz Seccuro received the letter that changed her life, and this month, her story, which attracted international news coverage, is being told again–- this time in her own words.

Seccuro's memoir, Crash into Me, a 256-page "tale of bravery, rage and fortitude" according to Kirkus Reviews, hit stands on January 3 as a first-person account of the night in October 1984 when she was raped in a University of Virginia fraternity house and the later devastation wrought by her assailant's apology.

While the title of the book seems to have another Charlottesville connection–- Dave Matthews Band's 1996 hit song by the same name–- Seccuro denies musical inspiration. Instead, she says, "We were drawn to the idea of the past 'crashing' into the present, a...

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Going, gone: Bank takes Kluge's Vineyard Estates

news-vineyd-estates-auctionAttendance was thin as substitute trustee James Autry, in black hat, read the foreclosure notice.

The swanky subdivision that Patricia Kluge once envisioned as pairing top-flight vineyards with high-end houses hit the auction block Monday, and nobody except the project's lender wanted to pay what the bank thought it was worth–- $4.9 million–- so now the bank owns Vineyard Estates.

The new valuation represents a considerable downturn. Not only did Sonabank reclaim the place for far less than the $8.2 million it lent, but the 511 acres in Southeastern Albemarle–- a place where an empty 3.74-acre lot sold four years ago for $1.2 million–- sold for less than $10,000 an acre.

As McLean-based Sonabank joins the ranks of lenders turned real estate owners, Sonabank rep Norman Hammer, who attended the auction, expresses enthusiasm that the bank could recoup more o...

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Straight talk: 'Buy local: Save your job'

In tough economic times, it might be hard to come up with anything more visceral than this appeal from a Central Virginia businesswoman: "Buy local. Save your job."

It's a slogan so powerful that it's been attracting attention since its last-year unveiling, and it's the brainchild of a local business owner.

"I want tax dollars staying in Albemarle," says Nancy Vetter, vice president of PrintSource, a printing and marketing company located on Berkmar Drive.

Vetter says she was inspired to put her message into the iconic European automobile oval sticker format when she saw yet another customer go online to order out-of-state printing services.

"Spending money in California doesn't help here," says Vetter.

She surmises that many people just don't realize how online ordering can yank money from the local economy. And for many younger people, online is the first place they go when making a purchase.

"My daughter says toner is $3 cheaper in New Jersey," says Vetter, who notes that when one adds in shipping costs, online isn't always cheaper.

It's not just private businesses that lose out when dollars leave Central Virginia. So do...

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Judge's wife: Should relationship be revealed?

cover-laxmurder-franlawrenceFran Lawrence reads a statement to the media in the George Huguely murder case with his partner, Rhonda Quagliana, who's standing beside him and mostly obscured. PHOTO BY LISA PROVENCE

It's no secret in local legal circles that Judge William Barkley is married to high-profile defense attorney Rhonda Quagliana.

Those who aren't lawyers might remember that Quagliana represented the apologetic rapist, William Beebe, arrested more than 20 years later when he begged his victim for forgiveness as part of a 12-step program. They might remember that she represented porn pastor Gregory Briehl, or wife-murderer Anthony Dale Crawford, or that she and her partner cu...

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