Jewell case fallout includes lawsuits, settlements, hearings
GEORGIA–Almost six months after a Federal Bureau of Investigation leak identified him as the number-one suspect in last summer’s bombing in Centennial Olympic Park, Richard Jewell remains at the center of controversies over the handling of the investigation.
In addition to the settlements he has collected from NBC and CNN and the several lawsuits he has filed, in late December Jewell was the subject of a congressional hearing on the roles of the FBI and media during the investigation. Senators Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called the director of the FBI and several news media representatives to testify about the leaks and subsequent reports on the FBI’s investigation.
In early December, NBC reached an out of court settlement with Jewell for an amount reported by the Wall Street Journal as more than $500,000. In late January, Jewell’s attorneys announced a second settlement, this time with CNN. The terms of this settlement are also confidential.
Jewell in late January also filed a defamation suit against Cox Enterprises Inc., the owner of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. The Journal first reported in late July that Jewell had become the focus of the Federal investigation.
L. Lin Wood, one of Jewell’s Attorneys, said that the current lawsuits as well as the earlier settlements are designed not just to compensate Jewell for personal injury, but to “bring a measure of accountability to the named parties.” Wood said he felt that adequate compensation for the damages suffered by Jewell would have to be “in the millions.”
Wood said he was not satisfied with the recent Senate subcommittee hearing. He said he did not think that the issue of media responsibility was properly addressed. During the hearing, the senators said they wanted to make clear that their oversight was of the FBI, not the media, and that they did not think that the government should enforce media accountability.