Tonya Harding 'was involved to her neck right from day one' in grisly Nancy Kerrigan attack, ex-Oregon DA says

A former district attorney in Oregon said disgraced skater Tonya Harding “was involved up to her neck right from day one” in the grisly attack on ice skating rival Nancy Kerrigan.

Norman Frink, a former Multnomah County district attorney who headed the investigation into Harding's alleged involvement with the attack, told People the disgraced skater was involved in the suspicious attack on Kerrigan despite her claims she was not.

"[Harding] was involved up to her neck right from day one," Frink alleged. 

US skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding skate during a practice
session at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics in Norway, 1994. It was the
first time the two skaters were on the ice together again since
Kerrigan was clubbed across the knee. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn

GMH/CMC - RP3DRIJQEZAA

Seven weeks before the 1994 Winter Olympic games, Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed in the knee with a police baton.  (Reuters)

Kerrigan was hit in the knee with a police baton just seven weeks before the 1994 Winter Olympics. Shane Stant was later identified as the man who clubbed Kerrigan in the knee as the ice skater walked off the rink from practice on Jan. 6, 1994. The plot was set up by Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, Brian Sean Griffith and Derrick Smith.

Gillooly and Griffith pleaded guilty to “racketeering” in connection with the attack. Harding’s ex-husband was forced to pay $100,000 and was sentenced to two years in prison. Griffith, Smith and Stant were each sentenced to 18 months in prison.

For years, Harding has claimed she was not involved in the attack that injured Kerrigan but did not keep her from competing in the Olympic Games. Kerrigan won a silver medal for her skating performances while Harding did not qualify for any medals.

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Gillooly told FBI agents Harding called for the attack. FBI documents stated Gillooly alleged he told Harding in December 1993 that “we should go for it (the attack).”

gillooly

Tonya Harding's ex-husband Jeff Gillooly was sentenced to prison for arranging the attack on Nancy Kerrigan.  (Reuters)

“Okay, let’s do it,” Harding allegedly said.

A significant piece of evidence backed up Gillooly’s statement: a handwritten note reportedly written by Harding stating where Kerrigan would be practicing.

The 2017 film “I, Tonya” which centered around the scandal, showed Margot Robbie, who portrayed Harding in the film, asking the judge to put her in jail instead of banning her from ice skating.

However, Frink said that was not accurate.

tonya and nancy

Tonya Harding was banned for life from the U.S. Figure Skating Association in 1994.  (Reuters)

“She could have gone to prison instead if she wanted to. This is what she wanted to do at the time,” Frink told People. “We would have gladly accepted an alternative sentence where she got the same as everyone else. There’s no point in her whining about the choices she made back then now.”

Frink said Harding did not receive jail time because of the lack of evidence.

“The only reason she didn’t go to prison with the other people, although the quality of evidence was good, it wasn’t as good as the other people,” Frink said. “We made a decision, as you do often in criminal cases when you don’t have iron-clad evidence, we made a compromise.”  

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Frink said he has not seen the Academy Award-nominated film but saw Harding in ABC’s “Truth and Lies” special where the ice skater admitted on air that she “knew something was up.”

tonya and nancy

Tonya Harding denied she was involved in the attack on Nancy Kerrigan.  (Reuters )

Harding told ABC she did not tell Gillooly to go through with the attack despite his testimony but she alleged she “overheard” the men talking about “how maybe we should take somebody out so we can make sure she gets on the team.”

“I go, ‘what the hell are you talking about?'” Harding alleged.

“It was a startling admission, because it was the first time she ever admitted something that gets closer to the truth than what she usually says,” Frink said. “With Tonya Harding, the line between truth and fiction is always blurry.”

In March 1994, Harding pleaded guilty to “conspiracy to hinder prosecution” - meaning she “knew who had done the attack but only afterward and she didn’t report it immediately” - and was sentenced to three years of probation, 500 hours of community service and was forced to pay a $160,000 fine, The New York Times reported. She was banned for life from the U.S. Figure Skating Association in June 1994, Cosmopolitan reported.

In an interview with The New York Times that was published in January 2018, Harding told the paper she knew the attack would follow her for the rest of her life.

I knew that this would be with me for the rest of my life,” Harding said.