Kim Goldman’s crusade: Make O.J. Simpson pay and never forget
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Kim Goldman wrote to O.J. Simpson a few years ago, asking to visit him in the Nevada prison where he was being held for robbery and kidnapping.
She wanted to see the man she says killed her brother, Ron Goldman, and Simpson’s wife 25 years ago Wednesday outside Nicole Brown Simpson’s Brentwood townhouse. It would become known as “the crime of the century.”
To her surprise, Simpson’s people got back to her. He would see her — as long as she signed a non-disclosure agreement covering their conversation. Goldman refused.
Much as she wanted to see him shackled and humbled, she said, she would never give Ron’s “brutal killer that pleasure.”
When a loved one is murdered, those they leave behind often go through a cycle of grief and pain. Many fight to give the loss meaning but also try to accept what happened and move on.
Not Kim Goldman.
For a quarter-century, she has made bringing Simpson to what she considers justice her unwavering mission. She and her father, Fred Goldman, have chased down secret hordes of Simpson’s memorabilia, taken possession of his tell-all book and spoken out against a criminal justice system that she says ignores victims’ rights.
Words like “closure” and “forgiveness” aren’t in her lexicon.
Goldman now is the vice chair of a prominent victims’ rights organization, and for 13 years has run a group that helps troubled teens in Santa Clarita Valley.
One of her goals has been getting Simpson to pay a $33.5-million civil judgment that she and her family won in 1997, when a jury concluded the former football great and actor had been responsible for the murders — even after a criminal jury acquitted him.
It’s not about the money, she said, as much as about holding Simpson accountable.
She said they have collected less than 1% of that amount, a point that angers her even more now that Simpson is out of prison and spending time on resort golf courses in Las Vegas.
To this day, she won’t use his name. He is simply “the killer,” the “murdering liar.”
“He doesn’t deserve more,” she said.
Facing O.J. down
Most of Kim Goldman’s dealings with Simpson have occurred in the courtroom.
In the moments after his 1995 acquittal, she was seen sobbing behind a triumphant Simpson by a television audience estimated at 150 million people.
Two years later, when a civil jury in Santa Monica found him responsible for the deaths and ordered him to pay $8.5 million in compensatory damages, Goldman again cried. She then turned to Simpson and shouted: “Oh my God, you’re a murderer!”
They did have one chance encounter years later, near a Los Angeles area strip mall. Goldman was at the wheel of her SUV. Simpson was walking. She revved the engine. As she detailed in her 2014 memoir, “Can’t Forgive: My 20-Year Battle With O.J. Simpson,” she passed up the chance to end his life.
When Simpson was convicted in the 2007 kidnapping and robbery in Las Vegas, Goldman was again in the audience. She simply looked at him and smiled as he was led away.
Goldman isn’t sure whether she will even see Simpson face to face again. She tried recently to arrange an interview for a podcast she’s doing on the case.
“I am sure it is really weird to be getting a letter from me, but for years I have listened to what everyone else has to say about you, lawyers, media but never from you. wondering if you would sit down and talk to me. I just want to understand whatever can be understood,” she wrote to the NFL Hall of Famer.
The interview never happened.
But that hasn’t stopped Goldman’s efforts to raise awareness of the case with her podcast, “Confronting O.J. Simpson,” which debuts Wednesday.
Over the years, Simpson has maintained his innocence and said he’s tried to move on with his life. “My family and I have moved on to what we call the ‘no negative zone.’ We focus on the positives,” he told the Associated Press this week. “I’ve learned to love. Life is fine.”
Never forgetting the victims
Ron Goldman was young and handsome, with seemingly his whole life ahead of him. He was an aspiring actor who dabbled in modeling and the fashion business.
Nicole Brown Simpson had separated from O.J. after several rocky years of marriage that included calls to police reporting he had beaten her. She had moved to the townhouse on Bundy Drive while Simpson remained in his estate on Rockingham Avenue.
Goldman and Nicole Simpson became friends, exercising together and grabbing meals. He worked as a waiter at Mezzaluna, where Nicole dined on the last night of her life. Later on June 12, 1994, Goldman went to her townhouse to deliver a pair of sunglasses she’d left behind at the Italian restaurant.
They were fatally stabbed and slashed that night, their bodies discovered some time after midnight. A single bloody glove was found at the scene. A second glove, police reported, was found at Simpson’s estate.
Ron “acted heroically that night. He wasn’t afraid,” Kim Goldman said this week. “He didn’t leave, he didn’t run. His last act of life really showed you who he was.” Goldman was 25 when he died.
Simpson was charged with murder.
During a televised trial, prosecutors Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden portrayed the former USC and NFL star as a man blinded by jealousy and driven to murder. Simpson’s “dream team” of lawyers, led by Johnnie Cochran, said he was a victim of racist LAPD cops looking to get a conviction by any means.
Unarguably among the most sensational trials in history, it riveted the nation and divided many along racial lines.
Simpson was acquitted, and managed to live fairly well even after the civil court judgment. But his luck ran out in Las Vegas. He received a 33-year prison sentence for kidnapping, robbery, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon and other charges during an attempt to retrieve memorabilia he said belonged to him from a hotel suite.
He served nine years before being paroled in 2017.
Simpson continues to draw an NFL pension that some reports have estimated as high as $19,000 per month. He also receives an unknown amount of royalties from his movies, which include the science-fiction thriller “Capricorn One” and “The Naked Gun” comedy trilogy, as well as from TV shows he appeared in.
Kim Goldman said that the courts in Florida, where Simpson had maintained a residence, have protected him. A bankruptcy judge awarded the Goldmans the rights to publish Simpson’s jointly authored hypothetical description of the slayings, “If I Did It.” The Goldmans retitled the book “if I Did it: Confessions of the Killer.” The “if” was printed in smaller type and placed inside the word “I.”
After the 2008 robbery sentencing, Goldman said, “We feel very strongly that, because of our pursuit of him for all these years, it did drive him to this.”
Now 47, she lives in Santa Clarita as the single mother of a 15-year-old whose middle name is Ronald. With an education in psychology, Goldman said, her focus is on raising her son and helping other kids with challenges through the SCV Youth Project.
She is no longer the young woman crying in the courtroom. The years, she said, have given her perspective.
She’s talked to jurors who acquitted Simpson.
“I appreciate this was a difficult conversation to have with me,” she said. “They didn’t believe the evidence. They believed the cops involved in the case were dirty and it was nothing to do with him.”
Goldman said the jurors ignored the overwhelming DNA evidence tying Simpson to the crime scene, noting the science was relatively new at the time. Instead they heard Det. Mark Fuhrman deny using the N-word, and then heard testimony that demonstrated he had — allowing the defense to raise suspicions that evidence could have been planted by the LAPD to frame Simpson for racial reasons.
Jurors, Goldman said, also did not hear about certain pieces of evidence as prosecutors chose not to present some witnesses. “We will never know,” she said, if that could have changed the outcome.
The civil case two years later “had the benefit of hindsight,” she said, as well as the addition of new evidence.
But as she goes through each day, Goldman said, she cannot help but think of all that her brother has missed out on.
“It is always, and most importantly, about remembering Ron and Nicole.”
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