Church arson trial starts

| March 29, 2012

Even though the fire at Union Baptist Church last April heavily damaged the building and caused thousands of dollars in repair bills, it could have been a lot worse.

Call it divine intervention, but the timing of Burlington Police officer Michael Pope, who was driving by the area on his late-night patrol, was impeccable.

As he cruised by Division Street, he smelled smoke, found the fire and immediately called for help before the flames could cause more serious damage.

As Pope drove into the church parking lot, the pastor's son, who had stopped on his way home from work, flagged down the officer and told him no one was supposed to be in the building.

He also saw the flames.

Authorities determined the fire was arson, and the man at the center of it all, Victor Rudolph Clegg Jr., saw his first day of trial Tuesday.

During his opening statement, Clegg's attorney, Alan Waples, posed a question to the jury: "Why would he do it?"

Clegg's family are longtime members of the church. The accused, although not a regular churchgoer, is fond of the congregation and has nothing to gain for burning the building down, Waples said.

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Category: Church Security

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