By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
OJ Simpson Paying The Piper
ST. LOUIS, MO — A judge has ordered O.J. Simpson to hand over any earnings from a private autograph-signing event to the mother of Ronald Goldman because of a civil verdict that found Simpson liable for his slaying. Simpson, served with the court papers Saturday in the St. Louis suburb of Bridgeton, countered that Sharon Rufo should expect nothing from him.
It was unclear how many autographs were signed and how much Simpson was paid. The NFL Hall of Famer claimed no money exchanged hands because the signings were handled through a promoter in Florida, where Simpson lives.
Jack Pook, an Ohio sports memorabilia marketer who arranged the signing, declined to discuss specifics of Simpson’s visit to St. Louis, accusing a reporter Sunday night of “trying to make a circus out of this.” When pressed for such basics as why Simpson came to town, Pook replied, “To say hello.”
Simpson was acquitted of murder charges in the 1994 stabbing deaths of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Goldman. A civil jury in 1997 held Simpson liable for the killings and ordered him to pay the victims’ survivors $33.5 million.
Rufo, living in St. Louis County, says in local court papers she has not collected any of her $1.27 million portion of the settlement. Simpson told St. Louis’ KTVI that jurors in his criminal trial “said I was innocent,” meaning survivors of his late wife or Goldman likely would get nothing from him.
“I will do what the law says, but outside of that, I wouldn’t go out of my way to give them a dime,” he said.
Countered Rufo: “I don’t understand why anybody, unless you’re sick, would want something from a murderer, an autograph from a murderer. I don’t get it.”
According to media accounts, Simpson was in the St. Louis area to sign memorabilia at the St. Louis Sports Collectors Show, a three-day fair at a Bridgeton union hall. But Pook has said that after learning Rufo lived in the area, Simpson’s visit to the union hall was canceled.
Simpson apparently didn’t fly out as planned Saturday before Rufo attorney Kathie Davis, a sheriff’s deputy, and Davis’ husband found Pook and Simpson at a Bridgeton hotel, where Simpson privately was signing autographs.
Davis said Sunday night that while serving Pook with court orders directing any of his proceeds from Simpson’s appearance to her client’s settlement, Simpson peeked from one of the hotel rooms and was served an identical court order.
Outside the rooms, Davis said, were hotel carts filled with Simpson-signed plastic helmets, jerseys, footballs and other memorabilia.
“I said to Simpson, ‘Why don’t we work out some payments,’ and he said, ‘You’re not gonna get any money from me,” Davis said, calling the defiance “horrible.”
“A lot of people feel they shouldn’t pay their judgments, but a lot of people also living on a lot less than Mr. Simpson still accept the verdict of the court and make their payments,” she said. “Simpson is living high off the hog, and (his refusal to honor the civil judgment) shows very little respect for the life of Ron Goldman.”
The sports collectibles show’s organizer says he never really wanted Simpson’s participating in what he called “a family oriented show.”
“We pride ourselves on having families come in with all their kids, and they all enjoy themselves,” Dave Jackson said. “Having Mr. Simpson here would probably not be conducive to that.”
Simpson shrugged it off, saying “I get invited to a lot of shows around the country, but I always prefer to do private shows and not public shows.”
While unapologetic for the weekend Simpson flap, Pook said he had no issues with Rufo or her attorney.
“She (Rufo) didn’t do anything wrong. She’s just trying to protect what’s hers,” he said. “Her attorney’s not a problem.”
After returning to Florida, Simpson told Miami’s WSVN-TV “I wasn’t paid nothing in Missouri and I had no contract with anyone” in Florida.
“Do you think after 10 years I haven’t figured this out?” he said.