GENRE: Nonfiction/Memoir/True Crime
AUTHOR SITE: link
MY GRADE: B+
FROM PUBLISHER: In September 2005, Liz Seccuro's world turned upside down when she received an apology letter from the man who had raped her twenty-two years earlier. The rape, which occurred when she was a seventeen-year-old freshman at the University of Virginia, was reported to the campus police, but their inquiry led nowhere. The man accused of raping her left the university soon after, and Seccuro tried to put the incident behind her, starting a business and a family, but like all survivors of trauma, the memory was never far from the surface.
The letter brought it all back. Seccuro bravely began an e-mail correspondence with her rapist to try to understand what happened, and why. As the correspondence continued, Seccuro found the courage to do what should have been done all those years earlier-prosecute him. She began appearing on national television and radio to talk about the case. Several crime dramas and a John Grisham novel, The Associate, were based on her experience. She had found a way to end a terrible story, but once judicial proceedings began, she found that what she thought occurred at that UVA frat party was only the tip of the iceberg. The investigation revealed at least two other assailants, numerous onlookers, and a wall of silence among the fraternity members that persisted two decades later.
MY THOUGHTS: I learned of Liz on an episode of I.D.'s Vanity Fair Confidential, Season 4, episode 1 titled Shadows on the Lawn. This is a well-written and easy to follow memoir about injustice-turned-justice, but barely.
Liz was at a frat party one night in 1984, a party she didn't even want to go to and only went to as a favor for her male friend, and was given a tart green-colored drink that was obviously drugged. She was there mentally at times but had trouble moving her limbs and was fading in and out of consciousness. She was carried into a bedroom and the lights were turned out and she was raped, and raped in another room by another male, and was raped digitally on the sofa by a third male while a few other men looked on. She's not sure what order this all happened in. She wasn't a rape victim who stayed silent. She did what she could at the time of the assault, October 1984, to see that her attacker was punished but was unsuccessful. Right after the rape she walked to the UVA medical center to tell them she was raped and was told by a nurse that they don't handle rape victims there, which makes no sense at all, and the nurse told her to go to another hospital far away. She was lied to right to her face several times by the disgusting male dean of UVA, Robert Canevari, about who had legal jurisdiction over the college. She was told the university had to deal with the situation themselves, not the Charlottesville police, which was a complete lie. The scumbag, who's hopefully six feet under now, tried to make her think she wasn't raped and just had a bad date and he even told her parents, right in front of her, that she was 'date raped', which wasn't true because there was no date. He suggested she transfer to another school and told her he had 'contacts' who could help with it. He'd already had the rapist, William Beebe, leave the school, thinking that would solve the problem and Liz would drop her complaint. Dean Canevari never even took a report of her story. In fact, several others didn't either. They just wanted to sweep the situation under the rug.
I have a bone to pick with her friends too. Lots of them came to her dorm room to comfort her but none of them offered to take her to a hospital.
Justice wasn't really served because William only spent five months in prison, due to Virginia not having a statute of limitations on rape, and the other two men who raped her got away with it because they wouldn't cooperate with law enforcement and by that point it had been twenty-two or three years since it happened.
Liz is very likable and very open about her ordeal and her struggle with panic attacks. I do think the book needed to be longer and I'd have liked more details on her first marriage at age twenty-three and I definitely wanted to read more of her correspondence with William Beebe. It needed information on how her parents were dealing with it over the years.