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Rudolph's mother: Son not a 'monster'

Mom says she loves bomber, doesn't condone what he did

Eric Rudolph's mother, Pat, says of her son, "I don't see him as a monster. I don't think I could."




Atlanta (Georgia)
Crime, Law and Justice

(CNN) -- Eric Rudolph's mother says her son's confession to a string of bombings across the Southeast was "quite a shock," but that she still loves him and will continue to do so "no matter what happens."

"I think each man is destined in life to fulfill whatever he's called to do, and some people, unfortunately, are on the dark side," Pat Rudolph, 77, said in an exclusive interview from Florida that aired Monday on CNN, her first television appearance.

"I don't see him as a monster. I don't think I could," she said.

Now estranged from her son, Pat Rudolph was not in an Atlanta federal courtroom Monday when he was sentenced to life without parole for bombings at the 1996 Olympic Games, a women's clinic that performed abortions and a lesbian nightclub.

The blasts killed one woman and wounded more than 100 others.

Confronted in court Monday by some of his victims and their families, Rudolph apologized for the Olympic bombing but not for any of his other attacks. (Full story)

He had earlier received life sentences for a 1998 bombing at a Birmingham, Alabama, women's clinic where abortions were performed, in which a security guard was killed and a nurse severely injured. He confessed to all four bombings.

In April, Rudolph revealed his motives for the first time, blaming his attacks on the legalization of abortion and "aberrant sexual behavior." (Full story)

Pat Rudolph said the idea that her son will be "buried in a cell" for the rest of his life is something she tries not to think about.

"I have to live in the moment, because ... the past is history, tomorrow is just a possibility," she said.

Asked what she would say to those people her son injured and the families of those killed, she said, "I don't know if I could be of any comfort, only in the sorrow that I feel as a mother."

"I'm sure they feel the same type of sorrow of losing some loved ones, but their life has to go on as well as mine," she said. "You learn to live with it."

And while she said she shares her son's distrust of government power -- "I think the government that rules the least is the best" -- she insisted she never condoned his use of violence in an attempt to further his anti-government aims.

"His anger, his way of dealing with this cause, is not mine; it's his. Therefore, the responsibility is his," she said.

In the 1960s, Pat Rudolph and her late husband were radical pacifists, protesting the Vietnam War.

Eric was the fifth of six children, and she "always found him a real comfort as a child." Her husband died when her son was a teenager, leaving her to raise her large family alone.

Rudolph and his family were connected with the Christian Identity movement, a racist, anti-Semitic organization that believes whites are God's chosen people.

Pat Rudolph brought 18-year-old Eric and an older brother to a Christian Identity congregation's compound in Missouri in 1984. They returned to North Carolina after less than a year.

Referring to the experience as experimentation and in the past, Pat Rudolph denied imparting racist values to her son, saying she was drawn to the group by the promise of home schooling.

She said that as a pacifist she disagreed with her son's decision to join the U.S. Army, and she is convinced "that the Army contributed to some of these ideas he has on force."

Following the Birmingham blast, Eric Rudolph disappeared into the mountains of western North Carolina after being identified as a suspect.

"I was very sad, very troubled and terribly invaded," his mother said, noting that she and other family members were questioned and watched. "My privacy was invaded. I was no longer a private person. I lost many friends."

Rudolph was able to elude authorities for more than five years, surviving in the rugged, rural area in the midst of a massive FBI manhunt.

"It's very interesting that he knew how to do all of this," his mother said. "I'm sure a lot of it he didn't know. He just improvised as he went along. And for some reason which we don't fully know, he was able to survive."

Pat Rudolph said she has plans to write a book, which will be "mostly personal" and will not get into her son's case.

"My life, I think, has been an interesting one. Maybe other people would find it interesting," she said. "People need to know that Eric and his family are just human beings, like everyone else."

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