O.J. Simpson headed to the Dominican Republic on Sunday for a speedy marriage to model Paula Barbieri, a local newspaper reported.
In a front-page report, the Listin Diario newspaper quoted unidentified sources as saying Simpson and Barbieri left Los Angeles on Saturday for Miami and were to fly on a private plane to the Dominican Republic on Sunday.
There was no confirmation of the report. Dominican immigration officials would not say whether Simpson had arrived or planned to arrive. Several Dominican airports and the U.S. Embassy also said they had no information about the reports.
Attorney Johnnie L. Cochran denied Simpson was on his way to the Dominican Republic, telling CBS Radio, “No, there’s no truth to that at all.”
Listin Diario is the newspaper that broke the news of Michael Jackson’s marriage to Lisa Marie Presley in the Dominican Republic last year. The country offers speedy marriages that require only one witness and a brief ceremony in front of a judge.
The Simpson marriage rumors started surfacing in the Italian media Friday, just three days after a jury in Los Angeles acquitted Simpson in the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman on June 12, 1994.
Listin Diario said its sources indicated Simpson, 48, and Barbieri, a model and actress, left Los Angeles for Miami on Saturday. It said they were accompanied by Simpson’s lawyer F. Lee Bailey and friend Al “A.C.” Cowlings.
The report said the entourage was expected to fly to an airport in the Dominican Republic on Sunday.
Then, the newspaper said, the couple were expected to go to the country home of a friend in the interior of the island. Two sources reached by The Associated Press said that could be the home of Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jose Rijo.
On Friday, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica quoted Barbieri’s brother, Michael, as saying she and Simpson wanted to marry “soon” and that the plan angered her father. The Rome daily said Vincent Barbieri always opposed such a marriage and now says, “I don’t have a daughter anymore.”
Simpson began seeing Barbieri in 1992 after he separated from his wife. The Simpsons divorced in December 1992. At one point, Simpson and Barbieri broke up for several months and he tried to reconcile with his ex-wife. That effort failed, and Simpson and Barbieri resumed their relationship.
Barbieri, 27, was born and raised in Florida and has known Simpson for several years.
She has modeled for Playboy and posed for the cover of Vogue and Victoria’s Secret. She recently appeared in a New Yorker magazine photograph. She also has appeared in United Paramount Network’s “The Watcher,” a TV movie in which she played a drug lord’s physically abused girlfriend.
Barbieri has described her relationship with Simpson as “close.” He escorted her to a Beverly Hills party the night before the killings.
During the trial, she visited Simpson at the Los Angeles County Jail regularly and spoke with him on the telephone frequently.
Last year, Barbieri told Diane Sawyer of ABC-TV’s “PrimeTime” that she believed Simpson when he told her he was innocent.
“He’s - and I want to say this, I do want get this across - he’s not a violent person,” Barbieri said. ‘He’s never, ever hit me.”
The following fields overflowed: DATELINE = SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
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