Bill White and Nazi party must pay black tenants $545,000, jury says
By Laurence Hammack | The Roanoke Times
Neo-Nazi leader William A. White, serving prison time for racially motivated threats, lost a civil lawsuit brought by five women victimized by his diatribes and, along with the American Nazi Party, must pay them $545,000, a federal jury decided today.
The jury of seven white men held White liable for compensatory damages of $265,000 and the American National Socialist Workers Party for $280,000. Jurors will now decide whether White and the Nazi party should pay punitive damages.
In a trial that began Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke, five black tenants from a Virginia Beach apartment complex claimed White harassed them in May 2007 after learning of a discrimination lawsuit they had filed against their white landlord.
Each of the five women had four claims against White: violating federal fair housing law, violating state housing law, racially-motivated harassment or intimidation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Jurors were asked to decide if White's actions were willful and malicious. If the answer is yes, that gives the plaintiffs authority go after his assets, despite White's pending bankrupty.
White, 33, identified himself as commander of the Roanoke-based American National Socialist Workers Party in letters to the women adorned with swastikas and addressed to "Whiney Section 8 N-----."
Following a rant about blacks on welfare, White concluded: "You may get one over on your landlord this time, and you may not. But know that the white community has noticed you, and we know that you are and never will be anything more than a dirty parasite -- and that our patience with you and the government that coddles you runs thin."
The women remain so frightened of White that on the night before the trial began, two were harboring reservations about going forward with the case, their attorney, Tony Troy, told the jury.
The plaintiffs -- Annette Reddick, Tasha Reddick, Arlene Carter, Tiese Mitchell and Crystal Lewis -- didn't seek a specific amount of damages.
Two of the women testified against him in the criminal trial that ended with his 2 1/2-year prison sentence. White was was convicted in December of threatening them and two other people. He was transported from the federal prison in Beckley. W.Va., to attend the trial.
White for years used the Internet to harangue those who don't share his racist views. In the past, he claimed his bigoted statements should be protected by the First Amendment. But Judge James Turk ruled earlier in the civil case that the neo-Nazi couldn't raise a free-speech defense.
That left White's attorney, John Weber, to argue that the plaintiffs hadn't met the legal burden of showing they are entitled to damages. Among other things, Weber said the women chose to remain at the apartment complex in spite of their fears.
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