opinion

'Why I'm seething after OJ Simpson's parole decision.'

Looking at the Orenthal James Simpson of today, it’s easy to see an old man, wearied with age and affected by the nine years he spent in a Nevada prison. It would therefore be so simple to believe the now 70-year-old when, on Thursday, he told a panel board considering his request for parole, “I basically have spent a conflict-free life.”

Those eight words – that claim – promptly sent the world’s media into a spin.

But let’s not forget, despite the story he now tells the world, O.J. “The Juice” Simpson has a long and brutal history of showing violent behaviour. A history filled with conflict, almost always directly of his own making. Ask his victims. Look at his criminal record.

In 1989, the star football player pleaded no contest to physically abusing his then second wife, Nicole Simpson Brown.

Photos from the assault show her face bruised and bloodied. They were photos Nicole asked to have taken so that she had physical proof of his violence.

oj simpson criminal record
Oj Simpson in the 1990s. Source: Getty.

Police tapes of her terrified 911 call present a woman crying, begging for help to be protected.

"He broke the back door to get in," Simpson says through tears. "He's going nuts... He's going to beat the sh*t out of me... The kids are up there sleeping and I don't want anything to happen... He came and he practically knocked my upstairs door down, but he pounded it and screamed and hollered and I tried to get him out of the bedroom because the kids are sleeping in there... It always comes back."

Six years later in 1995, during a trial in which Simpson was accused of murdering Simpson Brown and her male friend, Ron Goldman, diary entries came to light that again, showed the true violent nature of O.J.

Written by Nicole during and after their marriage, they talked of O.J. referring to her as a "fat ass" while she was pregnant with their child. About how at one point, he insisted she have an abortion. About how he physically abused her during intercourse. About how he threw her on the floor and kicked her for hours while she tried to escape. About how he smashed the windshield of her car so that she could not leave. About how he called her mother a whore. About how mad he would get when she didn't comb her hair the right way. Or clean the house to a high enough standard. Or have dinner prepared when he returned home.

ADVERTISEMENT
oj simpson criminal record
O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson. Source: Getty.

After being found not guilty of both murders by a jury, Simpson was then found liable for the deaths in a civil court and ordered to compensate the Brown and Goldman families a total of US $33.5 million, something he still has not done to this day.

Consistently, Simpson pedalled the narrative that he was the real victim in all of this. That despite the fact his ex-wife had been almost decapitated and two of his children left to grow up without a mother, it was he that had suffered.

For a while, Simpson's violent streak seemed to subside. But in 2001 it reared its head again, this time in Florida when Simpson was arrested after he reached into the vehicle of another person and yanked the driver's glasses off.

There were also FBI investigations into reports O.J. was part of a drug trafficking ring and a money laundering scheme, but no charges were ever laid.

Again, Simpson's streak seemed to subside. For a time at least.

But like clockwork, it returned.

In 2007, Simpson lead a group of four men into the Palace Station Hotel and held a number of innocent people at gunpoint. His mission was to steal his own sporting memorabilia from a dealer; memorabilia he said had been stolen from him.

oj simpson criminal record
Robert Kardashiand and OJ Simpson during the 1995 trial. Image via Getty.
ADVERTISEMENT

After being arrested for the hold-up, Simpson told police that he himself did not have any guns on him during the confrontation, and that, in his mind, clearly made him at least a little bit "conflict-free."

When discussing the crime, Simpson simply said that he was "sorry things turned out the way they did".

Not that he was sorry for the trauma he inflicted on his victims or for taking the law into his own hands, but sorry for the way it turned out. A way that ultimately saw him spend nine years behind bars.

He was sentenced to 12 convictions in total, two of which included kidnapping and armed robbery. And now, almost 10 years on, he is facing freedom.

oj simpson criminal record
O,J. Simpson earlier this week. Source: Getty.

"I have done my time and I’d like to get back to my friends," Simpson said on Thursday.

And maybe this time he has changed. Maybe the passing of time has wearied him. Maybe prison taught him the lessons he needs to start anew.

But the thing about a person's history is that it can be telling. And in O.J. Simpson, we see a history of long stretches of calm before violent raging storms. So let him go home to his family and friends. But let us all remember Nicole Simpson Brown, a woman who suffered his violence for years, and potentially lost her life because of it.

00:00 / ???