New Harding accusations reported

January 24, 1994

PORTLAND, ORE — PORTLAND, Ore. -- Tonya Harding has been accused of approaching two men about "bumping off" her former husband during their separation last summer after she suspected him of stealing her truck, according to a report published yesterday.

The Oregonian, in a report that recounted accusations by two unidentified men at a Portland, Ore., gymnasium, said Harding was "furious" at her husband, Jeff Gillooly, and asked the men, whom she barely knew, to "take him out of the picture altogether."

The paper reported that the men were unsure what she had meant by "bumping off" her husband and that they laughed it off. The paper said, however, that they had no doubt she was serious.

The men said Harding amended her offer a few days later, the paper said, and that she instead wanted to know if someone would beat up Gillooly. One of the men was offended by the request and stopped working out with her at the gym.

In The Oregonian report, neither of the men at the unidentified gym is quoted directly, no police report of the account is cited, nor are the allegations supported. There is no specific reference to an attempt to kill Gillooly.

Neither Harding nor Gillooly commented on the allegations in the report. Calls to their attorneys yesterday by The Associated Press were not returned.

The report comes amid accusations by her bodyguard, Shawn Eckardt, that Harding and Gillooly helped plan and cover up the attack on Olympic rival Nancy Kerrigan at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit on Jan. 6.

Harding has denied the accusations and has not been charged with any crime. Eckardt, Gillooly, Shane Minoaka Stant and Derrick Smith have been charged with conspiracy to commit assault. Gillooly has maintained his innocence, and Eckardt, Stant and Smith have confessed their roles to the FBI and are seeking to plea bargain in the case.

Meanwhile, a Multnomah County, Ore., grand jury resumes hearings today to decide whether to indict the four men, Harding or anyone in the case. The deadline for the grand jury report is Feb. 3, nine days before the Winter Olympics begin in Lillehammer, Norway.

"All I know is I haven't done anything wrong," Harding said after practice a few days ago.

The Oregonian report alleging Harding's attempt to "bump off" Gillooly was part of a broad story on her life that described claims by the skater of physical and verbal abuse by her mother and of physical abuse by Gillooly between the time of their marriage in 1990 and their divorce last August.

The paper also recounts a police report of an argument Harding and Gillooly had last March. Harding told police Gillooly had grabbed her hair and slammed her head into the bathroom floor several times. She tried to escape, she said, and he chased her in their pickup truck.

According to police, friends of Harding's came over to take her to their house. She was shaken, chunks of her hair were missing or loosened, and her hand was red and swollen. Harding said Gillooly had slammed her fingers in the car door.

A few days later, the police recorded Gillooly's side of the story. "He said he would never hurt his wife," the report said.

Gillooly, according to the report, said that he took Harding by the shoulders to try to calm her, and that he was concerned about her safety, so he followed her in the truck to get her to come home.

Harding kept calling the police during the next few months, according to police. Gillooly, Harding said, was following her in a truck, in violation of a restraining order.

Harding and Gillooly reconciled in September and returned to living together. Though no longer married, they referred to themselves as husband and wife, sharing a house until last Tuesday when Harding announced during 10 hours of questioning by the FBI that she was separating again from Gillooly so she could concentrate on the Olympics.

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