ARLINGTON, VA. (WUSA9) – It was 1977 in the course of the finale of the TV mini-collection Roots when the Butler household obtained a telephone name at their School Park house.
Phillip Butler jumped up from the sofa and answered. It was a name from a neighbor telling him a cross was burning in his entrance yard.
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The flaming wooden stood no less than seven-ft tall, one thing the Butlers had by no means seen earlier than.
“I’m going on the market and look,” Phillip Butler stated. “What did I do? From then on we needed to watch the place we [went].”
The household was scared but in addition very indignant.
One act of hatred ruined what was imagined to be the start of Barbara and Phillip Butler’s fortunately ever after.
They have been newlyweds who had simply moved into the neighborhood.
Police found a pacesetter within the Ku Klux Lan was answerable for the cross burning.
William Aitcheson was a College of Maryland scholar in his 20’s on the time. He was convicted of the crime and served ninety days in jail.
Aitcheson was additionally ordered to pay the household greater than $20,000.
The Butlers by no means noticed any of that cash, however they nonetheless discovered a solution to cope and transfer on from the incident.
“We needed to depart these reminiscences…attempt to depart these reminiscences behind,” Phillip Butler stated.
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Nevertheless, the Butler household was pressured to relive one of many darkest moments of their lives when Aitcheson, who’s now a priest in Virginia, revealed his earlier involvement with the Ku Klux Klan.
“It’s unreal. A priest? I by no means thought that that is what he modified over to,” Phillip Butler, who’s a Catholic, stated.
Aitcheson stated his previous was not a secret, however he felt compelled to make it extra public after seeing pictures of violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The priest, now sixty two, described his previous actions as despicable: “To anybody who has been subjected to racism or bigotry, I’m sorry. I’ve no excuse, however I hope you’ll forgive me.”
The Diocese of Arlington initially stated that for the great of the parish, Aitcheson is taking a voluntary depart of absence from ministerial duties at St. Leo the Nice in Fairfax. By way of the diocese, he has declined interview requests.
Ted Williams, the Butler’s lawyer, stated he believes Aitcheson, who turned a priest in Nevada earlier than ultimately transferring to Virginia, got here ahead solely as a result of he felt he was going to be uncovered.
He questioned Aitcheson’s assertion that the Charlottesville rally prompted his public mea culpa, after so many different racial flash factors over the many years.
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The Butlers stated the revelation of Aitcheson’s priesthood and discovering that he lives simply miles away has reopened previous wounds.
“You simply went again forty years in the past. It went again forty years in the past, and we stated…