Steinberg: For Lisa, I Was 'Model' Father

Posted: February 23, 1989

NEW YORK — In a jailhouse TV interview, a highly agitated Joel Steinberg denied killing his illegally adopted daughter or battering his live-in lover, and blamed the press for most of his problems.

Steinberg, smoking nervously before the interview and bickering with the reporter over the questions he was asked, also proclaimed he had been a ''model" father and that he did not know how Lisa Steinberg, 6, was killed.

"I have no idea what transpired," Steinberg, 47, told reporter Bill O'Reilly of "Inside Edition," in an interview to be aired tonight. "No one has any idea to this day as to what happened to Lisa."

Steinberg, a disbarred lawyer, was convicted in January of first-degree manslaughter for beating Lisa to death in November 1987. He faces up to 25 years in prison and will be sentenced in March.

Asked if he was the best father Lisa could have, Steinberg replied, "Oh, yes . . . I was a model father . . . We had a great relationship . . . I can't tolerate the loss. I miss my whole family. I enjoyed Lisa immensely."

The interview was conducted Tuesday night at Rikers Island. Author Maury Terry, who is writing a book about Steinberg, told the New York Daily News Steinberg had granted the interview "because he wanted to get his side of the story out."

He said Steinberg was upset by recent magazine articles that were ''sympathetic" to his ex-lover, Hedda Nussbaum.

Steinberg, portrayed at his trial as a cocaine user, refused to answer questions about his alleged drug use.

He also waffled on questions about whether he battered Nussbaum, but suggested - as he has before - that she was involved with sadomasochistic cults. Nussbaum had 16 broken ribs and scores of scars and bruises at the time of Lisa's death. She testified at the trial that Steinberg had beaten her for 10 years.

Steinberg gave the TV program a copy of a 1984 report in which Nussbaum told a psychiatrist she was involved with cults. But Nussbaum testified she made the statement at Bellevue Hospital during one of the six times she tried to leave Steinberg after a beating.

Steinberg saved his sharpest barbs for the press.

"I'm just another victim of the press," he said. "They sensationalize to sell headlines. They exaggerate, they distort, and they don't give fair understanding or fair representation."

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