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Family torn apart by Capitol insurrection reflects on Jan. 6 anniversary

ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — The family of Guy Reffitt, who has been charged in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection, says it is not the same family as a year ago.

Extremism has torn the Reffits apart, they say, stirring up feelings of fear, loss and anger among family members.

Authorities say Reffitt attended former President Donald Trump’s rally and protest at the Capitol on that fateful day, and is now awaiting trial among the more than 700 who have been indicted in connection with the insurrection.

He has pleaded not guilty. Reffitt’s attorney, William L. Welch, III, did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Watch the full story airing on ABC News Live Prime with Linsey Davis at 7 and 9 p.m. EST.

On Jan. 6, ABC News Live will provide all-day coverage of events marking one year since the attack on the U.S. Capitol and the continuing fallout for American democracy.

Reffitt is accused of obstructing an official proceeding, aiding and abetting; obstructing justice by hindering communication through physical force or threat of physical force; entering and remaining in a restricted building; and civil disorder, according to court documents.

“There were clearly signs he was getting involved with a lot of different people and a lot of bad people,” said Reffitt’s 19-year-old son, Jackson, in an interview with ABC News’ Mireya Villareal.

“Hearing my father was there — it was absolutely disgusting. And pretty much demoralizing. And I really lost all respect for him in that moment,” Jackson added.

Reffitt’s wife, Nicole, said that her husband is a member of the Three Percenters, a group the Anti-Defamation League calls “anti-government extremists who are part of the militia movement.”

Jackson said he went to the FBI with concerns about his father in the days leading up to the insurrection. “If something is to really happen, then I do not want this on my shoulders as the only one that actually sees what he’s doing right now,” Jackson said he felt at the time.

Cynthia Miller-Idriss, professor and director of the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab at American University, told ABC News she’s seen an increase in polarization among families in recent years.

“What we’re facing here in this country — both related to a lot of the things that happened on Jan. 6, but more broadly — whenever you have rising political violence or extremism or hateful acts or other kinds of violent crimes, families are shattered,” Miller-Idriss said. “The family that’s left behind needs a lot of support and therapeutic intervention.”

Shortly after Reffitt returned from the Capitol, he allegedly threatened his son and daughter over his involvement in the attack, according to court documents. Around Jan. 11, Reffitt told his children that the FBI was watching and ordered them to “erase everything.”

“My father brought up that, ‘if anyone turns me in, like, you know what happens to traitors, traitors get shot,'” Jackson said. “And that spooked me and my sister.”

According to court documents, Reffitt allegedly told Jackson that if he “crossed the line and reported Reffitt to the police, putting the family in jeopardy, Reffitt would have no option but to do Reffitt’s duty for Reffitt’s country, and ‘do what he had to do.'”

Reffitt’s daughter and wife have both denied that he meant anything threatening by that language and the daughter said she did not feel threatened, according to the documents.

Reffitt was arrested on Jan. 16 at the family’s home, as his wife, daughter and son watched. Soon after, Jackson said that he finally decided to leave home.

“I don’t really feel like he’ll forgive me or really take into consideration what he’s been a part of,” Jackson said.

For the rest of the family, they say the insurrection and Reffitt’s arrest has continued to affect their daily lives.

“It has been so difficult,” Nicole said. “The void that’s been left by Jackson and Guy, the girls and I have a very hard time.”

Peyton, Reffitt’s youngest daughter, says she’s “ready to move on” and heal from the situation.

“I have anger, but I love him,” she said of her father.

Reffitt spoke to ABC News from jail in December, saying, “This has been disastrous for me and my family, especially for my girls, my son — actually, all of my family.”

He added: “I never expected anything like this to happen.”

Reffitt says he believes he’ll be exonerated.

“It’s not that hard to prove that I didn’t do anything,” Reffitt said. “It should be pretty easy.”

He said he hopes to have a relationship with his son, someday.

But a full family reunion will take place in federal court when Reffitt’s trial begins in February.

“The whole situation is just going to be so nerve-wracking,” Jackson said. “Once it’s all set in stone, we can go back and really start, I guess, hanging out and getting back together and catching up.”

ABC News’ Seiji Yamashita contributed to this report.

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