Simpson denies harassing court intern Civil trial judge talks to lawyers in

  closed session

  Jonathan T. Lovitt ; Richard Price


  USA Today


  Page 24A

  (Copyright 1996)


  SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- O.J. Simpson denied Tuesday that he made sexual

  remarks to an 18-year-old high school student and said she lied when she told

  USA TODAY he asked her out.


  Amber McGrath, a part-time intern at the courthouse where Simpson is fighting a

  wrongful death lawsuit, had told USA TODAY that Simpson invited her to his

  home for a Halloween party..


  Simpson denied it emphatically, saying he wasn't even home Halloween night.


  ``If this person had come to my house, she'd have been sitting with my

  housekeeper,'' he told reporters outside court Tuesday.


  Greta Van Susteren, co-host of CNN's Burden of Proof, said Simpson did plan to

  attend a party that night at the home of an NBC executive. She said he invited

  her and her husband. They declined.


  Tuesday's disclosure in USA TODAY interrupted the proceedings for over an

  hour while Judge Hiroshi Fujisake met with lawyers for both sides. The session

  was closed and not recorded.


  Later, McGrath -- who had been visibly upset Tuesday morning -- left the

  courthouse refusing to answer questions from a crush of reporters.


  Monday McGrath said she was worried about losing her job. Tuesday her

  employment status was unclear.


  On at least three occasions Simpson was observed by spectators and courtroom

  staff demonstrating suggestive behavior toward McGrath. He once groaned

  aloud, ``I want her.'' Another time, after they accidently bumped into each other,

  he said, ``You can bump into me anytime you want.''


  He also gestured in court as though about to lift her skirt. A bailiff, Vicky

  McKown, waved a finger warning him to stop.


  Simpson Tuesday acknowledged he ``joked around'' with McGrath, but added, ``I

  joke around all the time.'' He denied sexually harassing her.


  He told of a conversation in which McGrath mentioned acting lessons but said

  they only spoke because she was sitting in his chair in an area outside the

  courtroom designated for trial participants. ``Don't you find it curious that she

  would be sitting in the seat I always sit in?'' he said.


  Simpson is facing a wrongful-death suit filed by the families of his ex-wife

  Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.


  Southwestern University law professor Robert Pugsley said the allegations are

  unlikely to influence the trial's outcome.


  ``If this gets back to the jurors, it may well give them a different perspective on

  this man, but I doubt it will compromise the trial,'' Pugsley said. ``It's early

  enough that it can be put in its proper place by the judge. But I imagine

  Simpson's attorney will be telling his client to get a little more serious.''


  After the trial delay, criminalist Dennis Fung was called to the witness stand to

  conclude his cross-examination. He told jurors he found traces of a substance

  that may have been blood in the drains of Simpson's bathroom. He said the

  ``presumptive blood tests'' were never confirmed.


  Those preliminary tests were not admitted as evidence in Simpson's criminal trial

  because the results were not absolute. Defense attorney Robert Blasier pointed

  out that other substances, including juice and cleaners, could have been falsely

  read as blood.

  PHOTO, B/W,Bob Riha Jr., USA TODAY ; PHOTO, B/W,Michael Caulfield,

  AP; Caption: Arriving for work: Part-time court intern Amber McGrath, 18, says

  O.J. Simpson began making advances toward her after she expressed interest in

  an acting career. Simpson: Says that he wasn't at home on Halloween night