Rape Victim Forgave Attacker, Then Pressed Charges
So when the man who raped her when she was a college freshman at the University of Virginia wrote her a letter of apology nearly 20 years later, Seccuro heard him out. And then, she pressed charges.
"Forgiveness is a journey you must take," Seccuro, 43, said in an interview on NBC's "Today" show. But, she said, "that's different than our criminal justice system."
The business owner, wife and mother of two from Washington, D.C., has written a memoir about her decades-long struggle for justice and closure, and is speaking out today, calling for more support for rape victims.
In a phone interview with AOL News today, Seccuro praised CBS News foreign correspondent Lara Logan, who was brutally assaulted in Cairo while covering events in Egypt Feb. 11, for allowing her story to go public.
Seccuro said victims of sexual assault can benefit when public figures talk openly about their experience. "Seemingly, talking about rape is the last taboo," she said. "So it makes it easier when people in the public eye share their story. [Women] can feel stigmatized for talking about their assault, but I think it's getting easier."
Crash Into Me," published in the January issue of Marie Claire magazine. "I can scarcely begin to understand the degree to which, in your eyes, my behavior has affected you in its wake."
Seccuro says she reported the rape to the college campus in 1984 but that the crime was never prosecuted. In Virginia, there's no statute of limitations on rape, so in 2005, after a series of awkward and stressful exchanges with her attacker, Seccuro says she finally decided to press charges.
Bebee pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated sexual battery in 2006 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison but received a suspended sentence of 18 months. He was paroled in August 2007 after serving six months in prison. Seccuro told AOL News she was satisfied with Bebee's sentence.
Seccuro, who is now a victims' rights activist, said it took years to recover from the trauma of being raped. She has said that she struggled with eating disorders. "I did lose that innocence," she told NBC. "Also, I lost a dignity I think I should have had. But I've regained it back."