Jewell Sues Atlanta Papers p. 12

By: STACY JONES AS HIS LAWYERS promised months ago, Richard Jewell, a former suspect in Atlanta's Olympic Park bombing, has sued the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, and his former employer, Piedmont College, for libel.
The lawsuit, filed Jan. 28, states that the newspapers, including nine reporters, and officials at Piedmont College in Demorest, Ga., made false and defamatory statements about Jewell.
The Journal came out with a special edition on the bombing just hours after it took place last July and was first to name Jewell as a suspect, citing law enforcement sources.
"We view the allegations seriously, but we believe the charges are without foundation and that we will prevail in court," said Journal-Constitution publisher Roger S. Kintzel.
"The fact is we are here because we were doing our job in Centennial Olympic Park at 1:20 a.m. on Saturday, July 27, just as Richard Jewell was," added Kintzel.
At the time, Jewell was employed as a security guard for the Olympic Games and was assigned to the light and sound control tower in Centennial Park, which is where the bomb went off.
In addition to naming Piedmont College, the court action singled out school President W. Ray Cleere and college spokesperson Scott Rawles for allegedly making false and derogatory comments to the press.
Regarding Rawles, the suit goes on to say that in his capacity as spokesman, he made, among others, the following false statements: that college officials had notified the FBI that they had concerns about Jewell; that Cleere told his chief of security to let the FBI know that Jewell was an overzealous security guard; that there were things in Jewell's background in which the FBI might be interested; and that Jewell was allowed to resign from his security guard position at Piedmont College after several incidents of over-zealousness.
Although no damage amount was mentioned in the lawsuit, it claims Jewell suffered "adverse physical consequences from stress, emotional distress, mental pain and suffering and wounded feelings."
Public hatred, contempt, ridicule and a permanent impairment to obtain or maintain employment in his chosen profession of law enforcement were also cited as sufferings resulting from the alleged libelous statements. Said Kintzel, "This complaint makes it clear that we were sued because we were the first to report the FBI focus on Mr. Jewell. Law enforcement investigations should be reported; that is our job. That reporting protects all of us."
On Oct. 26, 1996, the Department of Justice, acting through the local United States Attorney's Office, issued a letter to Jewell stating that he was not a target of the bombing investigation.
Former Olympic Park bombing
suspect charges Atlanta Journal and Constitution, nine reporters with libel
?(Richard Jewell) [Photo]


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