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Son of North Carolina judge pleads guilty to threatening local synagogue

Parents of 21-year-old William Warden say his mental illness was exploited by white supremacists online: ‘We apologize profusely to the Jewish community’

The Messianic Congregation Sha’arei Shalom in Cary, North Carolina. (Screen capture: Google Maps)
The Messianic Congregation Sha’arei Shalom in Cary, North Carolina. (Screen capture: Google Maps)

JTA — The son of a North Carolina Court of Appeals judge pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges for threatening a local synagogue.

William Warden, 21, son of Judge Lucy Inman, did not attend the hearing on Wednesday, since he is in 24-hour mental health treatment in Florida, the Raleigh News & Observer newspaper reported. As part of his plea deal, he will remain in treatment another 12 months, for a total of two years in treatment.

“As deeply concerned parents, we apologize profusely to the Jewish community and to all who have been impacted. And we are treating this situation with utmost seriousness,” read a statement from Inman and her husband Billy Warden after their son’s arrest in June 2018. They said that their son has struggled with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia his whole life and that he was vulnerable to being exploited by white supremacists online.

William Warden rang the doorbell of the Messianic Congregation Sha’arei Shalom in Cary, North Carolina. When a synagogue official remotely answered the bell, Warden made a “number of disparaging statements against the Jewish religion and people of the Jewish faith,” police told the newspaper, and threatened to damage the synagogue. He reportedly said, in part, “Get out of the government, that’s how you can help me. … Get out of Cary. … And get out of our country.”

He reportedly also burned a cross in a local park the previous month.

Rabbi Seth Klayman of Sha’arei Shalom told the newspaper on Wednesday that his synagogue has added more surveillance and now locks its doors.

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