WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - More evidence on Friday that the College Park KKK leader turned Arlington priest failed to put his Confederate sympathies behind him, even after he changed his attire from white sheets to clerical robes.
Years after becoming a priest, William Aitcheson was charged with assault and battery and convicted of trespassing.
The priest claimed the racist violence in Charlottesville prompted him to confess to his own old membership in the KKK, but that's far from the whole truth. But Maria Santos Bier is just out with a story in the Washington Post; "How I discovered my childhood priest was in the Ku Klux Klan," which suggest Aitcheson only wrote his confessional column in the Arlington Catholic Herald after she started questioning the diocese about his past.
As a history teacher, Bier says Aitchson was "A fervent advocate of the Confederacy." and used to joke about "Saint Robert E Lee." After Charlottesville, she Googled him, and found a 1977 story about the then 23 year old University of Maryland student. He was an "exalted Cyclops," in the local Robert E Lee Klavern.
Another freelancer, Nate Thayer, found Aitcheson had been charged in three Maryland counties with manufacturing explosives, threatening to lynch Corretta Scott King, burning crosses in front of Jewish organizations, and in Phillip and Barbara Butler's front yard.
“Shouldn't be any place in our country for that sort of thing,” President Reagan said after visiting the Butlers.
But there's more. “I always thought he was dangerous. I didn't know about his background at the time. But I would never turn my back on him,” said Damon Stutes, a doctor and fierce advocate of abortion rights in Reno, Nevada.
Stute’s fortress-like clinic has been firebombed four times by abortion opponents. Stutes says as a priest, Father Aitcheson spent months protesting outside, before he was charged in 1992 with assaulting a college student who was trying to shield a patient.
“He was definitely guilty of assault, battery and trespass on a slight woman,” said Stutes in an interview over Skype.
And Stute’s doesn’t believe he’s changed. “You can change your clothes, but you can't change who you are.”
Aitcheson remains out of sight, unwilling so far to answer all those questions.
Santos Bier, the freelancer who outed Aitcheson, says she contacted the Arlington Diocese on Saturday to ask about him. Then she went to see him perform mass at his Fairfax City church. After a long wait, another priest stepped in and said Aitcheson was not there because of an "emergency."
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