Saturday, March 17, 2007

9th Step has consequences

Wherever I go, not only there I am but I read the local papers pretty thoroughly to get a flavor of the city. Yesterday in the Post & Courier, dubbed "the south's oldest daily newspaper," I saw an article that really gave me pause.

A 42 year-old man was just sentenced to ten years in prison with all but 18 months suspended for raping a coed in 1984. DNA caught up with him, you might assume, but you'd be wrong. William Beebe pleaded guilty to the 1984 rape as part of his AA 9th Step. He apparently wrote the victim a letter to "make amends."

Wow, I'm really taken aback by this one. Can you imagine how he could have weaseled out of this one? He and his sponsor could have decided an anonymous letter would have been sufficient, citing the 9th step proviso ". . . except when to do so would injure them or others." He is, he could well have rationalized, an "other," as is his family, if he has one.

I believe that victims have a right to face their attackers and this letter allowed the victim to locate him, although she apparently knew his name at the time of the rape. Her university, she said, was not helpful at the time of the assault and she did not press charges then.

I do recall people, in my early recovery, telling newcomers that we must be willing to face the consequences of our amends, even if it meant going to jail. Beebe, who is 13 years sober according to newspaper reports, will move to Florida once released from a Virginia prison.

Your thoughts?

I'm still in Charleston, but without a USB cord, which is not the worst thing I could be without, I guess. Until tomorrow, when I'll post some pics, have a great day. Oh, yes. Run any amends you owe by your sponsor first!


Noor Azman Othman GBE said...

If it happened here, he will get twenty years jail sentenced and twenty strokes of 'rotan' for rape!

vicariousrising said...

I guess my opinion on this is that it depends on the individual and the type of infraction. I have a friend in AA who did something illegal to someone and who felt going to jail was absolutely the right thing for him to do, including for his spiritual condition. I would tend to think for me that this would be true as well.

I suppose one could rationalize until the cows come home reasons that "someone" besides oneself might suffer if one were incarcerated, but most likely that would be outweighed by the suffering one caused.

There's no easy answer. Excellent, thoughtful post.


msb said...

Hope you had a safe trip home.

lushgurl said...

That is a tough thing to be facing. I guess for me, the making of amends '...except when to do so would injure them or others'...'would probably mean I would have sent the letter anonymously.That is probably because of my fear of going to jail.
I will always ask my sponsor first though!

Meg Moran said...

you and I are such a hoot! I cut that William Bebee article out so I could post on it, but I'm still "chewing" on it. A very complex issue huh? I went online and read her (the victim's) thoughts and feelings and am left very conflicted by the entire issue. I guess it all goes back to what it says in the BB....we must be willing to go to any length, even if it means going to jail. But hooooowhee! And, I'm not sure the ammend did not harm the victim, her world has been turned upside down AGAIN. So yes, it is very complex. Glad your having fun...

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think the guy did an incredibly selfish and self-centered thing. AND he got horrible direction on this one. "except when to do so would injure them or others." Hello, SHE is the "them" here! In trying to clear his own side of the street, he completely left out the fact that she may actually have some feelings about this! He re-traumatized her all over again because of HIS desire to feel better about HIMself. I don't think this guy thought for one second that she would or could turn him in to authorities. He seemed to only think about what he wanted and needed instead of DOING THE NEXT RIGHT THING.
Did he actually think an apology was any sort of ammends for a brutal RAPE?
And do any of YOU really think that? C'mon people! The 9th Step is certainly not meant to be a selfish thing -- right????????
If he really just wanted to make ammends, then turn yourself in for the crime withOUT contacting her -- just do your time and go about your business. It IS possible.
Nope, he wanted to be forgiven....