By BILL BRUBAKER
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 9, 2007; B10
James L. Bevel, a front-and-center figure in the American civil rights movement of the 1960s and confidant of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., has been charged with incest in Loudoun County.
Bevel, 70, was indicted by a Loudoun grand jury last month on one count of unlawfully committing fornication. The indictment followed a complaint to the Leesburg Police Department in September 2005, said Lt. Jeff Dube, a police spokesman.
The indictment says the accuser was 13 to 17 years old when the crime occurred between Oct. 14, 1992, and Oct. 14, 1994. Virginia does not have a statute of limitations for felony crimes.
"We investigated thoroughly and completely, and that led to the charge," Dube said yesterday. Bevel was arrested in Alabama late last month and brought to Loudoun on Sunday, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Nicole Wittman said. He is being held without bond. The incest charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, Wittman said.
Wearing a bright orange jumpsuit, orange slippers and leg irons, the bearded, bespectacled Bevel appeared briefly yesterday in Loudoun County Circuit Court, where his attorney requested a bond hearing.
Circuit Court Judge Thomas D. Horne scheduled the hearing for June 14.
Appearing a bit frail, Bevel did not speak at the hearing.
Buta Biberaj, a Leesburg attorney who represented Bevel at the hearing, declined to comment.
"The family has asked me to assist him with the bond hearing," she said after Bevel was escorted back to the courthouse holding cell. "It's premature to say anything else."
Bevel, a minister, has been credited with playing a key role in some of the most prominent civil rights protests in the United States.
He organized the 1963 Children's Crusade in Birmingham, Ala., and was a leader of the Freedom Rides to desegregate public accommodations throughout the South in the early 1960s. And he was an architect of the March on Washington in 1963 and the Selma-to-Montgomery march in Alabama in 1965.
Along with civil rights icons Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young, Bevel witnessed the April 4, 1968, assassination of King.
In 1992, Bevel was the vice presidential running mate of perennial presidential candidate Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr., who had a strong following in Loudoun.
Bevel also helped organize the Million Man March in Washington in 1995.
The late author David Halberstam, who wrote about the civil rights movement, portrayed Bevel as a fearless risk-taker with an intuitive sense.
"And that was the only way this protest was going to work, to affect the consciousness of the country, the government, public opinion, was if they went into the most dangerous venues," such as Selma, Halberstam said in a 1998 NBC News interview. Bevel was trained as a Baptist minister and later became pastor of the Hebraic-Christian-Islamic Assembly in Chicago. At the time of his arrest, he was living in Eutaw, Ala., according to court documents.
Wittman said the investigation is ongoing. "For that reason, it would not be appropriate to make any comment," she said.