Anti-gay serial bomber Eric Robert Rudolph, who bombed an Atlanta gay bar in 1997, is penning an autobiography and in a cruel twist, is forcing one of the law enforcement agencies that tracked him to now help him.
He wants the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to turn over suspect sketches their forensic artist drew of him during a manhunt after he bombed Centennial Olympic Park during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. Rudolph wants to include the sketches in his autobiography.
The GBI champions open-records, so it has no choice but to honor a pair of requests on behalf of Rudolph, even if it means one of the sketches may now help him.
“Three people died as a result of his actions. It’s regrettable that we have to comply, but we will,” said GBI spokesman John Bankhead.
Rudolph confessed to four bombings: Centennial Park, abortion clinics in Birmingham and Atlanta, and lesbian bar Otherside Lounge on Piedmont Road. Five people were injured when Rudolph’s bomb exploded at the gay bar on Feb. 21, 1997. A second bomb planted at the bar failed to detonate. Three days later, Rudolph railed against “sodomites” in a letter to media outlets signed “Army of God.”
Bev McMahon and Dana Ford, co-owners of the Otherside, attempted to rebrand and reopen the bar after the bombing, but it didn’t survive.
Eventually McMahon and Ford decided to close the Otherside, largely because of difficulties that followed the attack. The total cost of the damage was almost $700,000. Insurance paid less than a third of it. There were also many lawsuits filed by patrons who had been at the Otherside on that fateful night. According to McMahon, all the lawsuits were eventually dismissed by the courts or decided in the club’s favor, but the court battles inevitably sapped money, time and energy. Also, the Otherside never was as well frequented after the bombing as it had been before.
McMahon and Ford made efforts to revamp and refocus their nightclub in the hopes of making it once again a viable business. They re-christened it Otherside Plus, then as a gay club called Rarity, and then as Club Rarity.
Finally, it closed. “I don’t like to quit,” McMahon commented, “but it’s time to move on, take a new road.”
On the 10th anniversary of the Otherside bombing, state Sen. Vincent Fort joined with then-Sen. Kasim Reed and Sen. Nan Orrock to introduce a hate crimes bill in the Georgia General Assembly. The bill was an effort to replace hate crimes legislation from Fort that was thrown out by the Georgia Supreme Court in 2004. Fort’s measure failed to gain traction in a GOP-controlled legislature.