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Victim's dad can seek rights to O.J. Simpson's book

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NEW: Judge says Ron Goldman's father can seek rights to O.J. Simpson's book
• O.J. Simpson was acquitted of killing his wife and Goldman
• "If I Did It" was pulled off the shelves after a flood of criticism
• Civil court found him liable for the killings and ordered him to pay $33.5 million
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MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- A federal bankruptcy judge on Friday ruled that the father of Ron Goldman can pursue the publishing rights to a book by O.J. Simpson, which speaks in hypothetical terms about the 1994 murders of Goldman and Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole.

The rights to the book, which the former football star titled "If I Did It," are owned by the Lorraine Brooke Corporation, run by Simpson's daughter, Arnelle. The company has filed for bankruptcy.

Judge A. Jay Christol accused Simpson of setting up the company in his children's names in a scheme to "defraud his creditors," calling the effort a "sham."

He ruled that Fred Goldman, who filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Simpson in 1997 after Simpson was cleared of criminal charges in the murders, is now the corporation's largest creditor. That civil suit found Simpson liable for the deaths, and ordered him to pay $33.5 million in damages.

A meeting is planned next week in which Goldman will consider whether he wants to go after the book rights or pursue other options. If he wins the rights and decides to publish, he wants to rename the book "Confessions of a Double Murderer," according to his attorney.

Simpson's lawyer, Kendrick Whittle, said his client received a $900,000 advance for the book.

Arnelle Simpson, who attended Friday's hearing, would not speak to reporters about the ruling.

"What it really means is that Fred Goldman finally has the opportunity to realize the judgment he got against O.J. Simpson some 10 years ago," Goldman attorney Paul Battista told CNN.

"This judge today found that O.J. Simpson engaged in a scheme to defraud Mr. Goldman in connection with the writing of this book. The payments that were made by the publisher to Mr. Simpson for this book that Mr. Simpson hid from Mr. Goldman, so it's a huge victory," Battista said.

The attorney said he believes Lorraine Brooke Corporation filed for bankruptcy in Florida as an "end run to stop a California state court from ordering and concluding an auction sale of the book rights."

Asked about the judge's accusation that setting up the corporation was fraudulent, Whittle told CNN, "We don't believe that. The corporation was formed under the articles of corporation in Florida. We're legally allowed to be an entity. ... Everything was done legitimately. In the United States, you're entitled to form a corporation. The judge's reference, I think, is boiler-plate language that he was utilizing to make his ruling."

He added, "It's not over."

He said he believed the company would make a comeback, and once the book is published, stockholders and other creditors would share in the proceeds.

"We have no intent to defraud" anyone, the lawyer said.

In November, after a firestorm of criticism, publisher News Corp. announced it was canceling the book, along with a two-part TV special planned for that month.

At the time, News Corp.'s chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said he and his company's senior management "agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project."

"We are sorry for any pain this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown-Simpson," Murdoch said in a written statement.

"If I Did It" was to be published by ReganBooks, and an interview with Simpson was scheduled on the Fox network. Both the publisher and Fox are subsidiaries of News Corp.

Publisher Judith Regan defended the project, saying she considered it tantamount to a confession by the former National Football League star, who was acquitted of the murders in 1995 after a lengthy, controversial trial.

But family members of the victims were incensed, and Regan was fired.

"He's willing to tell the world how he 'would' murder his children's mother and Ron. Sick," Fred Goldman told CNN's "Larry King Live" in an interview.

In June 1994, the bodies of Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ron Goldman were found outside Brown-Simpson's home in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles. They had been stabbed to death.

CNN's Susan Candiotti and Patrick Oppmann contributed to this report.

Fred Goldman is seeking the publisihing rights to O.J. Simpson's book.



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