Simpson denies harassing court intern Civil trial judge talks to lawyers in
Jonathan T. Lovitt ; Richard Price
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