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Richard Jewell reaches monetary settlement with former employer

August 26, 1997 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) _ Piedmont College has agreed to pay former Olympic bombing suspect Richard Jewell to drop his lawsuit against the school where he once worked.

Jewell had charged that college officials slandered him in statements to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Under the agreement, Piedmont will be dropped from Jewell’s libel suit against the newspaper, his attorney, Lin Wood, said Tuesday.

Wood declined to say what led to the settlement or how much money Jewell will get.

``Fortunately, I think, we were able to reach a settlement at what we would consider the early stages of the litigation,″ he said. ``Obviously we’re very pleased. We can now focus on the real culprit.″

Piedmont president Ray Cleere had no comment. The school’s attorney, Wray Eckl of Atlanta, was out of town and could not be reached.

Jewell, 34, worked as a security officer at the college in Demorest, Ga., before taking a job last summer as a guard at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta.

He was hailed as a hero for helping clear people away from the bomb before it exploded in the park July 27, 1996, killing one person and injuring more than 100. But three days later, the newspaper reported that he was the focus of the FBI’s investigation.

In October, the Justice Department cleared Jewell in the bombing.

Jewell filed suit Jan. 28 against the newspaper and the college, saying the newspaper portrayed him as a person with a ``bizarre employment history and aberrant personality who was guilty of criminal involvement in the Centennial Olympic Park bombing.″ He said Cleere and a college spokesman slandered him in statements to the newspaper about his job performance and personality.

The Journal-Constitution has said its reporting was ``fair, accurate and responsible.″

In addition to Piedmont, Jewell has reached monetary settlements with CNN and NBC over their coverage of the bombing, and with an Atlanta radio station that used his picture in a billboard campaign. Time magazine agreed to print a clarification about its Jewell coverage, but no money was involved in that agreement.

Still pending are suits against the Atlanta newspapers, the New York Post and WABC-AM radio in New York.