In his first detailed interview since his acquittal on murder charges last week, O.J. Simpson said Wednesday that he had pulled out of a television interview with NBC News, scheduled for Wednesday night, because his lawyers had convinced him that answering questions about the case might make it more difficult to defend himself in civil lawsuits that he still faces.
Simpson also described his life and emotions in the eight days since he was declared not guilty in a Los Angeles courtroom, and spoke of his current financial status, his relationship with his children and the state of his public image.
In a 45-minute telephone interview with The New York Times, Simpson said, among other things, that he had been wrong to “get physical” with his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, in 1989 and was now willing to meet with “battered women” to “talk about my relationship.”
He also said that his trial had not left him financially wrecked, that he was “on the same page” with his wife’s family about current arrangements for custody of their two children, that the “race deck” that came to play so significant a role in his trial “was supplied by the media.”
He said he had fielded offers from both American and foreign media companies to sell aspects of his story, that he was willing at any time to “sit and debate” the case with the lead prosecutor, Marcia Clark, and that he was confident he would find a job.
“I’ve always found a way,” Simpson said. “I’m an American. I should have a right to find a job and support my family.”
Simpson initiated the interview, telephoning The Times without notice early Wednesday afternoon. He said he wanted to explain his decision to back out of the television interview, which had been expected to be one of the most widely watched broadcasts in history.
He also discussed the murder case in general terms, and its aftermath, but did not address the unanswered questions that still surround the murder of his former wife, except to insist on his innocence.
“I am an innocent man,” Simpson said.
Simpson said that he never intended the NBC interview to be a forum to declare his innocence. “The jury did that for me in the strongest possible terms: a verdict in three hours,” he said.
But, he added, “I know there are a lot of minds that I’m not going to change.”
Simpson asserted that he has had no conflict with the Browns over his and Nicole’s two children. “We’ve agreed on the professional help for the kids. There is no conflict going on with the Browns over the kids.”
He also denied rumors that he had, or was about to marry Paula Barbieri, a model, in the Dominican Republic. Simpson described himself as “fired up” about the outcome of the planned interview with NBC, but in most respects he was affable and personable, even laughing about reports that his legal bills had left him broke.
“Not yet they haven’t,” he said. “I still have my Ferrari, I still have my Bentley, I still have my home in Brentwood and my apartment in New York.”
Simpson said he had intended to use the television interview to combat what he called “ludicrous misrepresentations” in the media, of both the details of his case and his life in the days since his acquittal last week in the murders of his ex-wife and her friend Ronald Goldman.
But he said he felt compelled to pull out after extensive consultation with his team of nine lawyers.