As was reported in President Paige’s ReCap, we had a spell-binding presentation on Friday by Kent Alexander, author of The Suspect which tells the story of Richard Jewell and the Atlanta Olympic Park bombing. Special thanks to John Ingersoll for enabling us to benefit from such an outstanding presentation!
Kent holds or has held a variety of positions: United States Attorney for the northern district of Georgia, General counsel of Emory University, General counsel for CARE, Senior partner at King & Spalding, president of The Temple, and with Kevin Salwin, co-author of The Suspect.
The book represents untold hours of tedious research, interviews, piecing together facts, along with possible facts, and overcoming non-facts – all painstakingly gathered, assembled and dispatched as required. The central figure is Richard Jewell, who was a safety officer on the grounds of the 1996 Olympics, who, as Kent explains, went “from obscurity to infamy in one hour. The world was grateful that Richard, one of 30,000 security personnel for the Olympics, identified a backpack containing explosives. His discovery enabled much of the area where the bomb was located to be cleared before it was detonated, even though, unfortunately, there was the tragic loss of life by two persons, plus another 111 injured.
The three key persons, says Kent, were (1) Kathy Scruggs, a police reporter who provided horribly irresponsible journalism, (2) a somewhat unscrupulous agent of the FBI named Don Johnson, and (3) Richard Jewell, who contributed to the preservation of untold numbers of lives, yet was quickly labeled by the Atlanta Journal Constitution as the perpetrator of the crime, and as Kent says, was convicted in the public media as the very bad guy. Richard was considered a “person of interest”, a term now used frequently by the FBI, but first employed in regard to Richard Jewell.
Though never charged, Jewell underwent a trial by media, which took a tragic toll on his personal and professional life. He was cleared as a suspect after 88 days of public scrutiny. Eric Rudolph eventually confessed and pleaded guilty to the bombing. He’s known as an American domestic terrorist convicted for a series of bombings between 1996 and 1998, which killed two people and injured over 100 others. Further, Kent explained, ‘profiling’ used by the FBI is now no longer used as a research tactic, also as a result of failures of the FBI in regard to the Richard Jewell matter.