October 4, 1995
Web posted at: 1:40 p.m. EDT
LOS ANGELES and WASHINGTON (CNN) -- "My first obligation is to my young children, who will be raised the way that Nicole and I had always planned," O.J. Simpson said in a statement read after his acquittal Tuesday. And it seems the just-released Simpson may be the one rearing his son, Justin, 7, and daughter, Sydney, 9.
Simpson and his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, had shared custody of the children after their divorce in 1992. After Nicole's death and the former football star's subsequent arrest, Justin and Sydney moved in with Nicole's parents, Lou and Juditha Brown.
The Browns, who reside in a gated beach community some 60 miles south of Los Angeles, became guardians of the children, and trial observers had speculated that a custody battle would ensue with Simpson's acquittal.
However, the Brown family hinted Tuesday evening that, in time, Sydney and Justin may return to their father. "We gain nothing by fighting," Lou Brown told ABC's Diane Sawyer. "Infighting in a family is never healthy."
Lou Brown acknowledged he had once said he would resist turning the children over to Simpson. But, he said, "The verdict sort of hit me differently, and we're still in wonderment, if you will."
Juditha Brown said she told the children about the outcome as soon as she returned home Tuesday. "Yes, we told them, 'Daddy's free.' They were happy. They love Daddy. We have never said anything negative about Daddy to them," she said.
-- Lou Brown, father of Nicole Brown Simpson and guardian of the Simpson children
Lou pointed out that his grandchildren no longer have a mother, and they need their dad. "Our grandchildren now have a father that's a free man, whereas they have no mother regardless of her situation," he said. "At least they have one parent to back up their life."
Under the initial custody agreement, Simpson had relinquished custody only until he was "able to resume his legal and physical custody," conditions presumably met by his acquittal. Earlier Tuesday, the Browns' attorney had warned that "nothing is automatic." Any change in the custody arrangement must be approved in Orange County probate court, and the attorney had warned that Simpson must show, "why the agreement should be changed."
Juditha Brown said she did not expect Simpson to reclaim young Justin and Sydney immediately. "He would like to get acquainted with the children again," she said. "I think he is reasonable enough to know that the children have a good life here, that they find strength and love in this house."
Simpson's family has stressed the need for unity on the issue of the children. "We are two families and we have two children that we love," said Simpson's sister, Shirley Baker. "And we're going to do the very best for the children (179K AIFF sound or 179K WAV sound)."
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