Regan Turns on O.J. Simpson

ByCHRIS FRANCESCANI, ABC News Law & Justice Unit

Nov. 16, 2006 — -- Publishing maverick Judith Regan issued a statement Thursday night, calling her most-famous author a "killer" and acknowledging that she set up O.J. Simpson in a bid to get a confession out of him on behalf of battered women everywhere -- herself among them.

Regan, Harper Collins' enfant terrible, is being widely vilified for publishing what is being touted as a "fictional" confession to the real murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

The fictional confession is given in Simpson's forthcoming new book, "If I Did It."

Regan now says that she was physically abused by her husband and other men. She says the interview she did with Simpson was an attempt at personal justice and "closure" for herself -- and apparently, for the nation.

Simpson was found not guilty of the murders of his ex-wife and Goldman in 1995. A civil court jury found him liable for their deaths in 1997, and ordered him to pay $33.5 million in damages to the families of the victims.

In the new book, the former gridiron great describes how he would have committed the slayings if he had done them.

Regan describes her feelings as she interviewed Simpson.

"The men who lied and cheated and beat me -- they were all there in the room," she said. "And the people who denied it, they were there, too. And though it might sound a little strange, Nicole and Ron were in my heart. And for them I wanted him to confess his sins, do penance, and to amend his life. Amen."

        Later in the statement, Regan concludes, "When I sat face to face with the killer, I wanted him to confess, to release us all from the wound of the conviction that was lost on that fall day in October of 1995."        "For the girl that was left in the gutter, I wanted to make it right,'' she added.

But Regan also said she had never met or spoken to Simpson before they sat down recently.

Regan told the New York Times late Thursday that she "contracted with a third party'' that told her the money would go to Simpson's children.

"They said the money was not going to Simpson,'' she said. "If it is I hope Fred Goldman and the Browns and everyone else can get it.'' She told the newspaper that she would share information about the financial deal with the families.

"If I Did It" purports to be a fictional "confession" that many -- now including Regan -- believe to be true.

Regan said that she took a cue from a former CIA specialist friend, who told her that "when killers confess the way they often do, it is by creating a 'hypothetical' -- and then they spill their guts."

Goldman's sister, Kim Goldman, told ABC News' Law & Justice Unit that she didn't "know what to make of" Regan's statement.

"I don't know why she wrote it," Kim Goldman told ABC News from her home in California. "It seemed weird to me. If it's just to justify what she did, I don't really care why she did it. She offended a country. She offended my family. And she offended the Brown family."

"This to me is a little bit of 'cover your ass,'" Kim Goldman said. "Find a different way to right the wrongs of battered women in this world. … It's really just about her -- and him. … It's a little strange to me. I don't know what to make of it, so I'm going to try and not pass judgment on it."

Goldman and her family launched a Web site this morning, that asks viewers to sign a petition and urges them to "let it be known that you do not, and will not, support any entity that assists and encourages a murderer to profit from his crimes."

The Web site lists the addresses and phone numbers of Fox TV, Fox Broadcasting, Harper Collins' and Regan's imprint, Regan.

Brown Simpson's sister, Denise Brown, an ardent advocate of domestic-violence victims, did not return calls for comment.

In her statement, Regan also compares herself to broadcast journalists like ABC News' Barbara Walters, Katie Couric and the late Ed Bradley, wondering why there was not similar outrage when those reporters conducted controversial interviews with the likes of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh, and the Menendez brothers, who were convicted of murdering their parents.

But Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz pointed out that Regan's deal with Simpson was different from the network interviews she cited because both she and her subject were being paid.

"What has appalled people about this latest O.J. spectacle is that Rupert Murdoch is paying a man -- who most of the country believes to be a murderer -- to come on the air and pretend that he's making a confession while clinging to the fictional fig leaf that he's innocent," Kurtz told ABC News.

"When network journalists interviewed the likes of Timothy McVeigh and Saddam Hussein, they weren't pretending to be something other than what they are, and they weren't getting media money for a book deal," Kurtz said. "It's the sheer disingenuousness of the arrangement with Simpson that seems beyond the pale."

Regan goes on to say that "to publish" does not mean "to endorse" Simpson; it means to "make public."

"But that is not why I did this," she said. "That is not why I wanted to face the killer. That is not why I wanted to publish his story."

Regan says the interview was "personal" for her.

"I didn't know what to expect when I got the call that the killer wanted to confess. I didn't know what would happen. But I knew one thing. I wanted the confession for my own selfish reasons and for the symbolism of that act," the statement reads.

"What I wanted was closure, not money," Regan says later in the statement.

"I had never met him and never spoken with him until the day I interviewed him. And I was ready. Fifty-three years prepared me for this conversation," she said.

Later in the statement, Regan says she wanted to get vengeance from the Simpson interview.

"We live in a world now where hatred and vengeance is a way of life," she says. "And as the killer sat before me, I was not filled with vengeance or hatred. I thought of the man who had beaten me so many years ago, who left me in a hospital, the man who broke my child's heart. And I listened carefully. "

"When I sat face to face with the killer, I wanted him to confess, to release us all from the wound of the conviction that was lost on that fall day in October of 1995," Regan says. "For the girl that was left in the gutter, I wanted to make it right."

Regan is a study in contrasts -- an erudite English literature major from Vassar with a Fleet Street sensibility.

She grew up on a Massachusetts farm and went on to graduate from Vassar College in 1975, only to work for The National Enquirer, where she was the "mutant baby expert," she told Cosmopolitan magazine in 1997.

Regan was a producer at Entertainment Tonight and for Geraldo Rivera before joining the publishing house Simon & Schuster, where she became a senior editor and vice president.

Rupert Murdoch sought her out in 1992, and the two had lunch in his private dining room at News Corp., where Murdoch offered Regan her own publishing imprint.

In 2001, a writer who profiled Regan for Irish America magazine wrote that Regan was "adamant … as far as her integrity was concerned."

"They came to me first with O.J. Simpson's book," Regan is quoted as saying. "I turned it down."

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