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Saturday July 20th, 2019 6:23AM

Brother's death steered Kim Goldman toward life of service

By The Associated Press
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ron Goldman was not just Kim Goldman's big brother. He was her hero and protector, the guy who pulled a terrified teenager from a devastating car wreck 34 years ago and rode to the hospital in the ambulance with her. The person every guy had to go through if they wanted to ask her on a date.

When O.J. Simpson was acquitted of stabbing to death Ron Goldman and Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, in one of Los Angeles' most exclusive neighborhoods on June 12, 1994, Kim Goldman was devastated. As the verdict was read following one of the most divisive criminal cases in U.S. history, cameras in the courtroom caught her sobbing uncontrollably.

Twenty-five years later, she has turned the agony of that moment into a lifetime of helping troubled teens and aiding crime victims' rights groups while also pursuing the life of a suburban single mom who, at the moment, is teaching her 15-year-old son, Sam, to drive.

"That's very scary," she says, laughing while recalling gripping the passenger-side door and putting her foot where the brake would be if she was in the driver's seat.

Still, even lighthearted moments like that come with a price.

"I don't suffocate in my grief. But every milestone that my kid hits, every milestone that I hit, you know, those are just reminders of what I'm not able to share with my brother and what he is missing out on," she adds.

Goldman, 47, can be disarmingly funny in unguarded moments. But the pain of her brother's death is closer to the surface as the 25th anniversary of the killings nears and media attention intensifies.

"Closure," she declares, "isn't a word that resonates with me. I don't think it's applicable when it comes to tragedy and trauma and loss of life."

To coincide with Wednesday's anniversary, Goldman will launch a 10-week podcast, "Confronting: O.J. Simpson," during which she'll interview her brother's old friends, the police detective who investigated the killings, attorneys for the defense and prosecution, and two of the 12 jurors who acquitted Simpson. Throughout, she'll continue to make the case that Simpson was guilty.

She hopes to eventually turn the podcast into a series spotlighting victims of other crimes.

Her 25-year-old brother was returning a pair of sunglasses that the mother of Nicole Brown Simpson had left at a restaurant where he worked when he and Simpson's ex-wife were stabbed and slashed dozens of times. Goldman's body had numerous defensive wounds, indicating he tried to stop the attack on Brown Simpson, a friend.

O.J. Simpson, who has always maintained his innocence, told The Associated Press he will no longer discuss the killings.

Two years after he was acquitted, a civil court jury found him liable for the deaths and ordered he pay the survivors $33.5 million.

Since then, Ron Goldman's sister and father relentlessly have pursued Simpson's assets, seizing some of his memorabilia, his rights to movies he appeared in and a book he wrote about the killings called "If I Did It." After acquiring the book rights, Kim Goldman added to it, changed its title to include the words, "Confessions of the Killer" and published it.

In 2014, she released a memoir, "Can't Forgive: My 20-Year Battle With O.J. Simpson," in which she revealed a chance encounter at a strip mall during which she passed on the chance to run him over with her SUV.

Sometime after that encounter, Simpson was sentenced to prison for barging into a Las Vegas hotel room with armed accomplices and robbing sports memorabilia dealers of property he said was his. Kim Goldman and her father have always taken some credit for that stick-up, believing Simpson was trying to make sure the memorabilia stayed hidden so they couldn't seize it.

Although she was not involved in that case, she stayed in the courtroom after Simpson's 2008 sentencing to ensure he saw her as he was led off to prison. She says it was retribution of a sort for his lead attorney in the murder case smiling at her as she sobbed.

Simpson was paroled in 2017, and Goldman isn't sure what she'd do if she saw him now.

"Screaming and all the F-bombs I could drop would probably feel really great. But I don't know," she says, letting the thought drift off. Maybe she'd just say, "Eh," and leave it at that.

For those who say Goldman should just move on, she says they are the ones who need to get beyond their fascination with Simpson and the trial.

"Because our case is so high-profile, I don't get to choose to just 'move on,'" she says. "So the criticism I get that I'm not moving on, I sort of feel like that's the criticism that everybody else should be having. The rest of the world, they're always revisiting this. Twenty years later, 25 years later, and I'm just living my life.

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