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  Harding Tells Police of Attack, Injuries

By Bob Baum
Associated Press
Saturday, March 5, 1994; Page D1

PORTLAND, Ore., March 4 — Nursing scrapes and bruises, Tonya Harding was interviewed today by police investigating her report that she was attacked as she walked through a park near the apartment where she has been staying in suburban Beaverton.

The 23-year-old figure skater said she was attacked from behind about 11 p.m. Thursday by a lone assailant after she parked her pickup truck across the park from the apartment complex.

Police said Harding's report seemed genuine and that they were inclined to believe it was not a random attack.

"We would lean more toward believing that she was the subject of the attack or the focal point of the attack," Beaverton police spokesman Mark Hyde said.

A subdued Harding, her sprained left wrist wrapped in a bandage, left the apartment today with her best friend, Stephanie Quintero.

"I'm feeling okay," Harding told reporters. "Can't you guys get a life or something?"

Quintero told police that Harding, who had been out to dinner with friends, pounded on the door and screamed, "Help me, help me!" when she got home Thursday night. Quintero said it took about a minute to calm Harding down enough to find out what happened.

Harding could be heard wailing in the background of Quintero's call to police.

"My best friend was coming walking through the park and was grabbed by someone and she's freaking out," Quintero said on the call.

Harding was "very visibly upset" and suffering an asthma attack when officers arrived. Rescue personnel gave her oxygen. After she took asthma medicine, she was able to talk.

"She said that about halfway through the park, she was pushed from behind, at which time she landed on her hands and knees," officer Lori Betz said in her report. "She struggled a bit and was able to activate her personal security system, which emits a very loud, strong scream."

The sound scared away the assailant, believed to be male, Harding said.

Harding's injuries are minor and will not prevent her from competing in the World Figure Skating Championships, which begin March 22. Harding canceled her workout today, however.

A grand jury is investigating Harding's alleged role in the Jan. 6 attack on Nancy Kerrigan in Detroit. It will issue its report no later than March 21.

Meanwhile, the executive committee of the U.S. Figure Skating Association today dismissed an appeal filed by Harding's attorneys challenging a disciplinary hearing set for Thursday in Colorado Springs.

A five-member USFSA panel is to determine whether Harding should be kicked out of the association for her alleged role in the Kerrigan attack. If she is not a member of the association, Harding cannot compete in the world championships.

Harding's attorneys issued a statement saying they are disappointed by the committee's decision.

"Ms. Harding is considering her legal options and will make a decision on an appropriate course of action sometime early next week," the attorneys said.

The skater's attorneys had argued the panel has not given Harding sufficient time to prepare her case and is not impartial. They also contend Harding's participation in the hearing would prejudice her position in the ongoing criminal investigation.

But the executive committee said that because the hearing panel has yet to reach a decision, the appeal was not authorized by USFSA bylaws and the hearing will proceed as scheduled.

The investigative panel's chairman, Bill Hybl, said today the process will be fair and that Harding's representatives would be allowed to cross-examine witnesses.

© Copyright 1994 The Washington Post Company

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