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  Rival Skater's Ex-Husband Charged in Attack

By Christine Brennan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 20, 1994; Page A1




 Jeff Gillooly is escorted from the Portland FBI office after surrendering there.
(AP File Photo)
PORTLAND, Ore., Jan. 19 — Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, was arrested today and charged with conspiracy in the Jan. 6 attack on rival skater Nancy Kerrigan, while an affidavit for the first time linked Harding to the alleged plot.

According to the affidavit from Multnomah County Sheriff's Deputy James McNelly, Harding's bodyguard, Shawn Eric Eckardt, said Gillooly told him Harding made two telephone calls to the Tony Kent Arena in South Dennis, Mass., near Boston, to try to determine Kerrigan's practice schedule.

The affidavit also says the alleged attacker, Shane Minoaka Stant, stalked Kerrigan in Boston before carrying out the attack in Detroit, and that telephone company records confirm Dec. 28 calls were made from the home Harding and Gillooly share to the Boston arena, where Kerrigan lives.

Eckardt, Stant and a third man, Derrick B. Smith, already had been charged in the attack, which took place at the U.S. Olympic figure skating trials in Detroit.

"Tonya categorically denies those allegations," Dennis Rawlinson, an attorney for Harding, told the Associated Press. "We note that none of the comments are directly attributable to Tonya. We believe Mr. Eckardt's lack of credibility is already well-documented."

As officials of the U.S. Olympic Committee and U.S. Figure Skating Association (USFSA) continued to discuss Harding's Olympic future, USOC Executive Director Harvey Schiller said today he has discussed the issue with the International Olympic Committee.

Schiller and IOC Director General Francois Carrard met today in New York, where they were attending meetings on other issues, to discuss what role, if any, the IOC might play in deciding whether Harding goes to the Olympics.

"He told me they still consider this an American matter," Schiller said, "but he also said the IOC is the ultimate authority on Olympic participation."

The IOC has the ability to declare an athlete ineligible for the Olympic Games, and would be under no threat of a prospective lawsuit in a U.S. court if it did so.

Sources said the USOC has asked the IOC to investigate the possibility of allowing the United States to have a third berth in women's figure skating, which would allow officials to place 13-year-old Michelle Kwan on the team if Harding is removed after the Jan. 31 deadline for naming the U.S. figure skating team.

Harding won the Olympic trials and Kwan finished second. Kerrigan could not compete because of her injury, but was put on the team in place of Kwan.

Harding, 23, has not been charged in the attack, but authorities have not cleared her either.

"We are continuing to investigate it," assistant district attorney John Bradley told AP. "The feds will continue, and my guess is the people from Michigan will continue to investigate it."

While the attack took place in Detroit, authorities say the alleged plotting was based in Portland, hence the arrests here.

Gillooly, who has denied involvement in the case, surrendered at the FBI office in downtown Portland shortly after the warrant was issued. He was released after posting 10 percent of his $20,000 bond. Stant, who waived extradition from his home in Chandler, Ariz., was in court today with Gillooly. As of early tonight, he had not posted bond.

Although they were officially divorced last August, Harding and Gillooly had reconciled by the time the divorce papers were finalized and had been living together for months. During 10 1/2 hours of questioning Tuesday by law enforcement authorities, Harding issued a statement saying she was separating from Gillooly again, but still believed he was innocent.

Gillooly, 26, was named in a warrant issued Tuesday by Circuit Judge Donald Londer. The warrant was unsealed today, hours after Harding's meeting with authorities.

In the affidavit, Eckardt at first said Harding had no knowledge of the plot to injure Kerrigan, the 1992 Olympic bronze medalist. But Eckardt later recalled that Harding made two telephone calls from her residence to the Tony Kent Arena to determine what Kerrigan's practice schedule was. Eckardt also said Gillooly told him that Harding was concerned about having made the phone calls and had said that if she was ever questioned about them, she would say she had made those calls in an effort to get Kerrigan to sign a poster for a fan of Harding's.

Phone company records show two calls were made on Dec. 28 from Harding and Gillooly's Portland area home to the arena, according to the affidavit. The affidavit said another call was placed from the same phone to the arena on Jan. 3. A worker at the arena said she remembered the Jan. 3 call, and that it was a man's voice that asked whether Kerrigan was practicing. Kerrigan flew to Detroit on Jan. 4.

The affidavit also states that after the Olympic trials "when Gillooly and Harding returned to Portland from Detroit, they were met by Eckardt, and later plotted for three hours to come up with an alibi. Essentially the alibi dealt with Eckardt and Smith planning to set up a security service for ice skaters," which was why they were in Detroit at the time of the Olympic trials.

"They were concerned that they had left both a paper trail, in terms of wiring money and telephone calls, and had to come up with an alibi," the document says.

The affidavit also says Gillooly's bank records show he withdrew $9,000 in three transactions from Dec. 27 to Jan. 6. The affidavit details wire transfers from Eckardt to Smith.

The affidavit also said that Kerrigan was deliberately hit on the right leg because it was her landing leg for jumps. According to the document, Gillooly was the one who passed this information along to Stant.

Harding met with the FBI and local prosecutors until 11:25 Tuesday night and reportedly denied any involvement in the attack. About eight hours into the interview she released a statement announcing that she and Gillooly were separating:

"After a lot of agonizing thought and evaluation, I have decided that it would be best for Jeff and me to separate. The events of the last few days have been difficult for both of us. I am innocent, and I continue to believe that Jeff is innocent of any wrongdoing. I wish him nothing but the best, but I believe during this crucial time of preparation for the Olympics that I must concentrate my attention on my training."

As she left the session with authorities, Harding was asked by reporters what she would say to her fans. "Please believe in me," she said, her voice trembling.

Asked if she still believed in Gillooly, Harding said, "Definitely."

Robert C. Weaver, another attorney for Harding, told reporters Harding cooperated fully with the FBI and district attorney, but said he would not discuss details of the investigation.

Over the next two days, the USFSA will hold an "informational" conference call with its nine-member executive committee and 45-member international committee, the panel that could be charged with voting on Harding's Olympic status, organization president Claire Ferguson said today.

"We will just chat and update over the next two days," she said.

Asked if Harding's standing on the Olympic team had changed with the news of the affidavit, Ferguson said, "There's been no change."

Ferguson told the Associated Press that the USFSA discussed with lawyers its legal standing if it should vote to remove Harding from the team.

"The members are going to have to realize that there are a lot of legal issues they will have to deal with if we vote her off the team," Ferguson said. "But if the majority want to go ahead with that, then we'll deal with it the best we can."

Ferguson said that contrary to published reports, no vote is scheduled.

© Copyright 1994 The Washington Post Company

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