Throwing the Book at O.J. Simpson
Thursday, September 13, 2007
PHOENIX -- Fred Goldman is 66 years old now. He lives in the Arizona desert a good five miles of barbed wire and cactus from the nearest sunblasted shopping center. His son, Ron, is buried back in California, but do not think that this geographical distance means that he has put his son's slaying behind him.
Goldman has never let the most notorious murder case in modern American history, the O.J. Simpson trial, move "more than a centimeter from the surface of the brain," and today he launches a bizarre offensive against Simpson, the man whom a civil court -- and many Americans -- consider to be someone who got away with murder.
"I made a promise to Ron," Goldman says in a long, late-afternoon interview in his modest home, "that I would pursue this bastard. That we would never let this go."
That pursuit escalates to heights not seen in a decade, when Goldman is scheduled to go on the "Oprah" show today to tout the macabre book he took away from Simpson, "If I Did It."
The book -- in which Simpson wrote of how he might have killed Nicole Brown, his ex-wife, and Ron Goldman the night of June 12, 1994 -- prompted so much negative reaction that the original publisher, Judith Regan, was fired and hundreds of thousands of copies pulped.
Goldman then gained rights to the book under terms of the 1997 civil court judgment that held Simpson responsible for the murders, and arranged for it to be published again.
He hasn't changed a word of the text or the title. But, in a stinging bit of irony, he has reduced the size of the word "If" to the level of the microscopic. With the subtitle, the cover now appears to read: "I Did It: Confessions of the Killer." Goldman also added an introduction, prologue and afterword, by himself and others, that recasts Simpson's book as both an indictment and a confession by the man himself. The book will be in stores by this weekend, and more than 100,000 copies have already been ordered, according to Goldman's literary agent. The profits will go toward settling a minuscule fraction of the $38 million Simpson owes both Goldman's family and Nicole Brown's estate, which is devoted entirely to the two children she had with Simpson.
But Goldman's decision to publish the book has enraged Brown's family. Denise Brown, her sister, refused to be onstage with Goldman on Oprah Winfrey's show, instead taping her segment separately. She vows she will never speak to him again.
"This is evil, this is blood money," she says in a telephone interview. "It's written by a man who is evil. And now [Goldman] is writing in the same book by the man who murdered his son? This is disgusting to me."
It is one thing, of course, to lose your child to a crime of violence. It is another to see the accused murderer parading around South Florida at one golf course or another, doing everything possible to avoid paying court-ordered judgments against him.
Then again, it is also true that bitterness and obsession eat at the heart. They are acidic. They destroy what they touch.
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