PHYSICAL ABUSE


    Of course, in order to make the possibility of Simpson's committing a double murder even plausible, the prosecution/plaintiffs had to portray Simpson as a man with a violent disposition, for whom committing murder would not be unthinkable -- particularly since this was so contrary to his public image before the murders. To this end, incidents of Simpson's physical assault on Nicole were presented in both trials. The incidents that I could uncover from the time of the criminal trial were...

    * Victoria Beach incident, '86 (Darden, p. 280+1)beaten.jpg (83882 bytes)
    * Red Onion, '87 (per Denise Brown, 2/06/95 transcript)
    * La Cantina, '88 (per Denise Brown, 2/06/95)
    * Limo back seat incident, '88 (Darden, p. 280+1)
    * New Years '89 (various criminal trial witnesses)

    In addition, Faye Resnick, in her "... a Life Interrupted" mentions...

    * Las Vegas incident: OJ beat Nicole and pushed her partly undressed into hotel hall, '84?
    * An incident at Rockingham in which he beat her and locked her in a closet, '87
    * California Beach Sushi: OJ in a drunken rage, but struck nobody, May '93.
    * Many arguments, "blowups," and glaring, but no physical blows mentioned after January '89

    In the civil trial, some of these were reviewed, and others were added to the list...

    * India Allen (12/3/96) saw Simpson slap Nicole in a parking lot in the early '80s.
    * Albert Aguilera (12/3/96) described Simpson hit Nicole in the Virginia Beach incident, '86.

    (There was also a scattering of civil trial witnesses at about the same time to the fact that Simpson was more unhappy by breaking up with Nicole than he let on. But, that testimony does not reveal incidents of physical abuse.)

    After so much consistent testimony, there does not seem to be much doubt that at one period in their relationship Simpson was many times physically abusive to Nicole, and on at least one occasion (New Years, 1989) was extremely so. (Less discussed are the indications that Nicole was also physically combative, too -- it appears to have been a mutually aggressive relationship. But, that's not relevant to the present discussion.)

   THE PATTERN: It was claimed by Simpson apologists that Simpson was chastised by the New Years incident (which came to the attention of a court) and that he vowed to reform. In fact, Simpson agreed in writing to tear up their pre-nuptial agreement if he ever beat Nicole again, a concession worth millions of dollars. According to the foregoing record, it appears that he did reform. From January '89 to June '94 -- 5-1/2 years -- there is not a documented incident of physical abuse that I could find.

    Furthermore, in all of the incidents I could find, Simpson (and maybe also Nicole) had been drinking before the abuse. This leads me to the perception that Simpson was a "mean drunk" (particularly with the details to flesh out the incidents as Denise Brown provides). It is hardly an unusual phenomenon that some men get belligerent and abusive when they are drunk, and for that reason some have decided to be careful about their drinking. This could be significant insofar as neither Park nor Kato portray Simpson as being drunk at the time they saw him after 11 pm, and neither did any of the people he encountered at LAX or on the airplane. If the cause of Simpson's abusiveness was drinking, and he was not drunk on the night of the murders, this seems to minimize the idea that he did the murders as an instance of a usual pattern of violence. (Also, the 5-1/2 year lapse in violence seems to run counter to that idea.)

   OTHER DOUBTFUL BEHAVIOR: In addition to overt physical violence, Simpson was portrayed as "dangerous" in the criminal trial for actions that he took that were legal, but unwelcome. Among these...

    * "Stalking Nicole" at her Gretna Green house, April '92. According to Boe and Colby (2/06/95) Simpson was observed hanging around the sidewalk outside Nicole's house at 11:00 o'clock at night a few months after she moved out of their Rockingham Avenue estate. Although prosecutor Darden was fond of calling this "stalking," it could as well be considered "spying," especially insofar as no later violence seems to be connected to it. Although it is unbecoming for Simpson to be spying on his ex-wife shortly after she leaves him, it does not carry the same implications as "stalking" her.

    * Spying on Living Room Sex: Keith Zlomsowitch told the grand jury (6/21/94) that he had an encounter with Simpson at Nicole's house in which Simpson said that he had looked through Nicole's living room window the night before and had seen the two of them engaged in oral sex. Simpson expressed strong disapproval, but there was no violence or threats of violence.

    * Several Restaurant "Scenes": Zlomsowitch also told of a couple of occasions when Simpson encountered himself and Nicole in restaurants, and injected his presence into their midst in such a way as to make them uncomfortable, and specifically so as to make Keith uncomfortable to be in public with Nicole. Eventually the combination of all of Simpson's acts of hostility toward the couple discouraged Zlomsowitch, it was implied, from continuing an intimate relationship with Nicole, but he continued to be her good friend until at least the beginning of 1994.

    * The 911 Incident: In October 1993 Simpson came to Nicole's house on Gretna Green in an angry mood. Apparently she refused to admit him, and thereupon he kicked in the French doors to get in. She called 911, and the tape of that call was widely played. Simpson rages angrily, but mostly unintelligibly, in the background, and Nicole expresses the fear that Simpson will "beat the shit out of" her, but explicitly says that she doesn't think he will kill her. The police do come, and Simpson leaves. There was no arrest; Kato was a witness to the incident and testified about it. Although this is an incident in which Simpson got very angry, it is not an incident of physical abuse, insofar as no blows (to people) were struck.

    * The Tax Letter: After Nicole broke off their reconciliation in mid-May, 1994, Simpson reconsidered their agreement whereby Nicole would claim Rockingham as her residence in order to get a significant tax break on the Bundy property. On the Thursday before she was murdered, Nicole received a letter from Simpson (Cynthia Shahian, 2/06/95) in which he advised that under the circumstances, he could not support her claim to be living at Rockingham. Insofar as this would have a serious financial cost to Nicole, the letter can be considered an act of hostility by Simpson toward her. But, it is not physical violence, and it was not illegal. (In fact, some have said to NOT take that position would have been illegal of Simpson.)

    * The Sojurn Call: Nancy Ney, a director of Sojurn House for battered women, testified (12/04/96) in the civil trial that she had received a phone call from a woman named "Nicole" (phonetic spelling) whose biographical characteristics closely matched Nicole Brown's, and whose voice was consistent with the voice she later heard on the publicized 911 tape. This caller claimed that her ex-husband had been stalking her, had beaten her during their marriage, and threatened to kill her if he found her with another man. Cross-examination cast some doubt on whether the caller really was Nicole Brown, insofar as Ney's contemporaneous (and shortly later) notes were not specific about many of the caller's biographical details, or the circumstances of the abuse/threats.

    One important issue not explored in the testimony was the possibility that even if the caller were Nicole Brown, she was coloring the things she said in order to get sympathy or professional advice from the listener. The caller did not actually seek refuge from the ex-husband. For example, if Nicole had been worried about a physical threat from some other source than OJ, but felt she could not be frank about it, a call to Sojurn might give her some ideas about dealing with the threat in a confidential way. In any event, this testimony did not describe any specific incidents of physical abuse.

    ON THE OTHER HAND: Dr. Lenore Walker is the psychologist who pioneered the "battered woman syndrome theory," and the defense had her interview and test Simpson. It was her opinion that although Simpson had battered Nicole at one time, he did not fit the pattern of a batterer who goes on to kill his victim. She believed that the only way that Simpson could have been the murderer is if he committed the crime in a fugue state, and since he did not have a history of such an aberration, that seemed virtually impossible. She did not testify because of tactical considerations by the defense (Schiller, p. 391 - 393).

   PROBABILITIES: Ragnar replied to the foregoing by citing some interesting statistics. First, he reminds of Dershowitz' statistic, "2 million spousal assaults occur each year, and only 2,000 murders..." This is a meaningful number, as long as we realize the question it addresses. It is the answer to, "What is the probability that abuser Simpson will go on to kill his wife?" (Not exactly the question on our minds.)

    Another statistic... "Of all women who are murdered in any given year, 29% are murdered by a spouse, former spouse or boyfriend. (1,430 of 4,936 in 1992)". This answers the question, "What is the probability that Nicole was murdered by OJ" without considering domestic abuse. (Simpson didn't do it.)

    The final statistic is, "Of those women who were murdered that had suffered abuse in the past, 80.3% (715 of 890) were murdered by a current or former husband or mate." This answers the question, "What is the probability that Nicole was murdered by OJ" when domestic abuse is considered. (Simpson did it.)

    In view of the five year hiatus in domestic violence, which of the last two situations applies? Hard to say. And in any event, statistics is only a resort if nothing else can be known, and in the Simpson case we might hope for more.

    CONCLUSION: The record seems to support the idea that Simpson was a "mean drunk," and did physically abuse Nicole up until the New Years 1989 incident, but reformed thereafter, and never beat her again. Also, the several "stalking" incidents described might have more been "spying."

  Dick Wagner • Van Nuys, CA (2/06/02) NG_741b

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