Jan 8, 2018
This past September, William Aitcheson finally paid a civil court settlement that he had owed for decades to Barbara and Phillip Butler. In 1977, the Butlers, who are black, moved to a mostly white neighborhood in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Less than a week later they woke up to a cross burning in their front yard.
Seventeen cross-burnings were reported to Prince George’s County police in 1976 and 1977. Aitcheson was found guilty of six of them. He was also convicted of sending a death threat to Coretta Scott King, who had been invited to give a speech nearby. He had written plans to detonate bombs at the homes of several black families and at local NAACP offices. He had shown a fully-made bomb to an FBI undercover agent; and police later found bomb making materials at his home.
And yet for what was practically attempted murder – he was sentenced only to probation and ninety days in medical prison. The Butlers also won a civil judgment against him for $23,000. He never paid.
In the years after the trial, Aitcheson returned to college. He went from being an exalted cyclops of the Robert E. Lee Lodge of the KKK to a being teacher and scout leader – one who adored Robert E. Lee, according to his former students. In the eighties he became a priest in the Catholic church. He led the congregation in the singing of the Confederate anthem “Dixie.” Every school, church, and institution he came across looked the other way as he spewed the same deadly hatred as he did in his KKK past.
Finally, a member of his church remembered her former high school history teacher of the same name, and googled him. In a matter of seconds, she found what the church had ignored for decades. She also happened to be a freelance reporter. She called the Arlington, Virginia Diocese where Aitcheson preached and indicated that she might do a story. On hearing that he was now “discovered,” Aitcheson decided to step down from his position and to pay his old debt to the Butlers. He suddenly claims to have had a moral transformation.
As for all the institutions that gave him cover and propped him up as a “leader” for forty years – they must only be sorry that he was finally caught.