Shere Hite, who last month denied she was the "Diana Gregory" who was making phone calls and writing letters to the press about Hite's new book, had previously told an Associated Press reporter that she is, in fact, Diana Gregory, the reporter said yesterday.

Sex researcher Hite, who recently published her third report on relationships, was born with the name Shirley Diana Gregory. Starting almost two months ago, a woman identifying herself as Diana Gregory and saying she worked for Hite contacted several reporters about the new book. When the similarity in names was noticed, The Washington Post asked Hite whether she was the woman making the phone calls.

Hite denied she had made the calls and insisted that the similarity in names was a coincidence. She said Diana Gregory had worked for her for four years "doing everything there is to be done."

But AP reporter Peter Alan Harper said yesterday that in the course of preparing a story about Hite's Oct. 5 press conference, he was told by a coworker that Diana Gregory had called her both at home and at the office to pitch a story. Harper knew Hite's original name from a Time magazine profile, so he called Hite for an explanation.

At first, "she said Diana Gregory was a publicist working for her," Harper said yesterday. "Then I asked point-blank, and she finally said yes -- she was the same person who had made the phone call.

"I asked her why she did this, and she said she didn't think reporters wanted to speak to the actual person. She said she had not done this except in the case of this one reporter."

"Diana Gregory" had called and written The Washington Post in the previous two weeks. She had also contacted The New York Times.

Hite did not respond to requests for comment left on her answering machine yesterday.