Richard Jewell Hopes to Restore His Reputation
ATLANTA (AP) _ Richard Jewell, cleared of suspicion in the Olympic Park bombing, thinks he’ll never fully recover his reputation or fulfill his hopes for a law enforcement career.
``There will be a non-healing scar that is always affixed to my name,″ Jewell told The New York Times in an interview published today. ``I don’t know if that will ever be cleared up.″
Jewell scheduled a news conference for today. He was expected to tell how he _ an obscure security guard working at the Summer Games _ got caught up in the FBI’s hunt for the person who planted a pipe bomb at a crowded event. The July 27 explosion killed one person and injured more than 100.
Also today, federal prosecutors released the FBI affidavits that were used to support searches of Jewell’s home and other property in the days after the bombing.
The papers, which a judge had ordered unsealed, quote several acquaintances speaking of Jewell’s fascination with police work. They also quote witnesses who saw Jewell in the vicinity of the explosion, but none who saw him handle the bomb.
``Jewell was always reading and talking about `cop stuff,′ ″ one witness is quoted as saying. An acquaintance who saw Jewell on television after the explosion is quoted as saying his appearance was out of character.
Jewell was ``an individual who lived for the moment, he was an adrenaline junkie who would thrive in this situation, yet he appeared just the opposite, he was nervous and stressed,″ the acquaintance is quoted as saying.
The names of the witnesses who spoke to the FBI were blacked out of the document before it was released.
Federal prosecutors sent Jewell a letter Saturday clearing him of suspicion, but that won’t change the minds of people who already labeled him guilty, his lawyers said.
``There will always be people out there who believe Richard is the bomber,″ Wayne Grant said. ``There will always be people who stare. There will always be whispers of recognition.″
Jewell told the Times his chances of getting hired in law enforcement are ``between slim and none.″
In an interview today on NBC’s ``Today″ show, Grant said federal prosecutors should have made a more public announcement of their change of heart, which was contained in a letter given to Jewell’s lawyers at a meeting. Delivering the letter so privately ``seems to be an effort to keep this on the quiet side,″ he said.
Still, Grant said, ``I think this is the best you can expect from the government. They are not in the business of apologizing. I think it’s very difficult for them to admit they made a mistake.″
After his name was leaked three days after the explosion, Jewell became a virtual prisoner in the apartment he shares with his mother, with reporters and the FBI watching his every move.
The media ``just jumped on it like a piranha on a bleeding cow,″ Jewell said.
Roy Black, the lawyer who represented William Kennedy Smith in his rape trial, said Jewell is ``the perfect image for why we have the presumption of innocence. But to be honest, this is one of those times that there is a wrong with no real remedy.″
His lawyers have a potential remedy. They plan to sue news organizations and reporters who they believe tried to make Jewell fit a profile of a bomber _ a military type or aspiring police officer seeking to become a hero.
Federal investigators have been studying more than 200 rolls of videotape and still photographs taken at the park near the time of the bombing, and have started re-interviewing bomb victims.
Jewell initially was hailed as a hero for alerting authorities to a suspicious knapsack in the park and helping to evacuate the area.
Two days after the bombing, Tim Attaway, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent and friend of Jewell, came over for dinner saying he wanted to find out what happened.
Over lasagna, Jewell described the night of the bombing, not realizing that Attaway was legally wearing a recording device. The transcript of the meeting depicts Jewell’s earnestness and his desire to impress law enforcement officers, lawyer G. Watson Bryant Jr. told the Times.
The next day, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported that Jewell was a suspect without identifying its sources. Other news organizations pounced on the story and federal law enforcement sources said Jewell was at the top of their list of suspects and potential suspects.
Ron Martin, editor of the Journal-Constitution, declined to comment.
``They didn’t break it. They were fed it by the law enforcement people,″ said Phil Meyer, who teaches media ethics at the University of North Carolina. ``I don’t think they should feel particularly guilty about that.″