ABC News Exclusive: 'If I Did It': O.J's Daughter's Idea

The book was the idea of O.J.'s daughter; but the Goldman family owns it now.


June 15, 2007 — -- "If I Did It," the still-unpublished book in which O.J. Simpson writes in disturbing detail about how he might have killed ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, was Simpson's daughter's idea, ABC News Law & Justice Unit has learned.

Simpson's eldest daughter, Arnelle Simpson, came up with the concept for the book along with a friend, Raffles Van Exel, according to a deposition she gave this week.

Meanwhile, a Florida federal bankruptcy judge awarded the rights to the book to the family of victim Ronald Goldman on Friday, clearing the way for Goldman's father to auction off the rights to the book to the highest bidder and keep the money as part of a multi-million dollar wrongful death civil judgement his family won against Simpson back in 1997.

Ms. Simpson said in the deposition that she took the idea to her father. He told her, "I have to think about it,'' she testified, but eventually he agreed.

She said she then went to Simpson attorney Leonardo Starke.

"I need help,'' she tesitified she told the lawyer. "This book deal has come to me to give to my dad. How do I go about making it legit?"

Goldman believes Simpson is using the company, which is headed by Arnelle Simpson, to shield his money. Though the company is apparently bankrupt, the rights to the book could be worth millions.

On Tuesday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge A. Jay Cristol ordered Arnelle Simpson and her father's attorney, Leonardo Starke, to give depositions by week's end in a hearing to settle a bankruptcy filing made by Lorraine Brooks Associates, the company that received the money for the book from News Corp. and its book publishing subsidiary, HarperCollins. The name of the company comes from the middle names of Simpson's two youngest children, his lawyers have said.

Cristol ruled on Friday that L.B.A. can be considered as belonging to Simpson and therefore is obliged to turn over the rights to "If I Did It'' to the Goldman family, which reportedly will rename the book "Confessions of a Double Murder.''

Lorraine Brooke Associates was "clearly accomplished to perpetuate a fraud," Cristol said, according to the Associated Press.

But before the hearing last week Kendrick Whittle, Arnelle Simpson's bankruptcy attorney, vigorously disagreed, arguing that the Goldman claim could only be held against O.J. Simpson, not LBA, and that any legal and financial claims against LBA would only punish Arnelle Simpson.

"If the court found 'surrogate' to mean that LBA and O.J. were one in the same, everyone that was trying to get to O.J. would go through his daughter. It would set an absurd precedent."

Simpson was acquitted in 1995 of murder charges in the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, but the families of the victims won a civil judgment against Simpson in 1997 for the wrongful death of the pair. The Goldmans were awarded about $19 million.

Goldman's attorneys argue that over time interest has accrued and that the judgment is now worth about $40 million, a contention hotly disputed by Simpson's personal attorney Yale Galanter.They have told ABC News they contacted Hollywood studios, publishing houses and talent agencies to alert them to the auction.

Pollock said that Arnelle Simpson testified in her deposition that she and Van Exel, president of Raffles Entertainment and Music Production, came up with the idea for the book and pitched it to her dad.

"Raffles came up with the idea,'' Pollack told ABC News. "He pitched it to Arnell. Arnell then pitched it to her dad."

Whittle confirmed to ABC News that Arnell and Von Exel brought the idea to O.J. Simpson. "They were all in it together,'' he said."Raffles was interested in putting it all together.''

Arnelle Simpson denied in Wednesday's deposition that her company was a sham, according to Whittle.

"This company was an effort to begin to do something for herself, not to fund Mr. Simpson's legal fees," Whittle said. "Even though HarperCollins canceled the publishing deal with LBA, plenty of other publishing companies are interested in buying those rights."

But Pollock insists the company was created to prevent Fred Goldman from recouping money from the civil judgment.

"The whole Lorraine Brooke Associates enterprise was a sham devised to defraud Fred Goldman," he said.

News of the impending publication of "If I Did It," along with a two-part television interview with Simpson on Fox, was met with such widespread public backlash in November that News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch canceled publication of the book and the TV special. He also publicly apologized to the victims' families.

The rights to the book eventually reverted back to LBA, and many thought the controversial tome would fade into ignominy.

But in a twist February that solidified this epic legal drama's reputation for inducing vertigo, lawyers for the Goldmans, who had loudly and publicly decried the imminent publication of the book when news of its contents broke, aggressively sought the rights to the book so they could auction if off themselves. Goldman's attorneys persuaded a California judge to turn the rights to "If I Did It" over to them to settle part of the decade-old civil judgment.

An auction was announced and scheduled for April 17 at the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge had ordered that it be held in Sacramento because it was the California headquarters of HarperCollins, which holds the rights to the book.

In response, lawyers for Lorraine Brooks Associates announced they were filing for bankruptcy, putting the auction on hold until a judge in Florida could untangle the legal mess.

In the fall, in a rare television interview on the subject, O.J. Simpson said that he was "pitched" the idea for the book, though he didn't say by whom, and agreed to it to help out his children. Referring to the "If I Did It" title, Simpson said the idea had come from the publisher, HarperCollins.

"That was their title," he said in the interview. "That's what they came up with. I didn't pitch anything. I don't make book deals."

In the same interview he maintained his innocence in the murders and said the notion that his book was meant as a fictional "confession" was simply spin from the publishers.

"I have nothing to confess," he said. "This was an opportunity for my kids to get their financial legacy. My kids understand. I made it clear that it's blood money, but it's no different than any of the other writers who did books on this case."

The Night in Question

While the book has never been published, Newsweek magazine obtained a copy of the controversial chapter and published a report earlier this year.

According to quotes from the chapter published in Newsweek, Simpson, speaking "purely hypothetically'' according to his attorney Yale Galanter, wrote the chapter as an imagined scenario, and has always denied that he killed the pair.

But the chapter is written in the first person, according to the magazine. Simpson writes chillingly that on the night in question, ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson was taunting him and charged at him like a "banshee." He lost control of himself, according to the excerpt.

Furious at his wife for previously taunting him over her sexual indiscretions, Simpson wrote that he drove to her home and entered through a back door, brandishing a knife he kept in his car to ward off the "crazies" in Los Angeles.

He wrote that he wanted to "scare" her. He wore the knit cap and gloves he kept in his car to stave off the early morning chill on California's golf courses.

Brown Simpson shrieked at him. Her dog gave a friendly tail wag to Goldman, who had apparently arrived to return her mother's glasses, which she had left earlier in the evening at the restaurant where Goldman worked.

The dog's reaction confirmed to Simpson that Goldman was a familiar presence in the home, he wrote according to Newsweek.

"You've been here before," Simpson screamed at the young man. His ex-wife angrily demanded that Simpson leave him alone, and then charged at him. She slipped, fell and smashed her head hard on the floor.

After that, Simpson wrote, he blacked out.

"Then something went horribly wrong. And I know what happened, but I can't tell you exactly how."

When he regained consciousness, he was holding a bloody knife over the mutilated bodies of his ex-wife and Goldman. He panicked, according to this account.

He headed back outside to the alley, stripped off everything but his socks and rolled the bloody clothes into a small pile. He then returned to his Rockingham estate, slipping past a car waiting to take him to the airport, according to the excerpt.

He famously banged into the air conditioner outside the guest house at the Rockingham estate, where Kato Kaelin was staying.

Throughout, Simpson wrote, he was aided by a friend he called "Charlie." There was no evidence at the criminal trial that there was an accomplice.