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Relationship Information, Quotes, and Trivia
Where and/or how did Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly meet?
Why did Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly break up?
Other Relationship Information about Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly:
Harding became notorious in conjunction with the January 6, 1994 attack on her competitor Nancy Kerrigan. The widely publicized attack took place during a practice session for the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit. Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, and her bodyguard, Shawn Eckardt, hired Shane Stant to break Kerrigan's right leg so that she would be unable to skate. Stant followed Kerrigan to Detroit after failing to find her at her training rink in Massachusetts, and struck her on the thigh a few inches above the knee with a collapsible police baton. Kerrigan's leg was only bruised, not broken, but the injury forced her to withdraw from the national championship. Harding won that event, and both Kerrigan and Harding were selected for the 1994 Olympic team. After Harding admitted to helping to cover up the attack, the USFSA and United States Olympic Committee initiated proceedings to remove her from the Olympic team, but Harding retained her place after threatening legal action. She finished eighth in Lillehammer, while Kerrigan, by then fully recovered from her injuries, finished second.
The attack on Kerrigan and the news of Harding's alleged involvement led to a media frenzy of saturation news coverage. Harding appeared on the cover of both Time and Newsweek magazines in January 1994. Reporters and TV news crews attended Harding's practices in Portland and camped out in front of Kerrigan's home. CBS assigned Connie Chung to follow Harding's every move in Lillehammer. Counting 400 members of the press jammed into the practice rink in Norway, Scott Hamilton complained that "the world press was turning the Olympics into just another sensational tabloid event". The tape-delayed broadcast of the short program at the Olympics remains one of the most watched telecasts in American history. On February 1, 1994, Gillooly accepted a plea bargain in exchange for his testimony against Harding. Gillooly, Stant, Eckardt, and getaway car driver Derrick Smith all served time in prison for the attack.
Harding avoided further prosecution and a possible jail sentence by pleading guilty on March 16 to conspiring to hinder prosecution of the attackers. She received three years probation, 500 hours of community service and a $160,000 fine. As part of the plea bargain, Harding was also forced to withdraw from the 1994 World Figure Skating Championships and resign from the USFSA. On June 30, 1994, after conducting its own investigation of the attack, the USFSA stripped Harding of her 1994 title and banned her for life from participating in USFSA-run events as either a skater or a coach. The USFSA concluded that Harding knew about the attack before it happened and displayed "a clear disregard for fairness, good sportsmanship and ethical behavior". Although the USFSA has no control over professional skating events, Harding was also persona non grata on the pro circuit because few skaters and promoters would work with her. Consequently, Harding failed to benefit from the pro skating boom that ensued in the aftermath of the scandal.
Harding maintained her innocence of and disgust at the attack, and got a tattoo of an angel on her back, allegedly as a symbol of her innocence. In her 2008 autobiography, The Tonya Tapes, Harding said that she wanted to call the FBI to reveal what she knew, but refused when Gillooly allegedly threatened her with death following a gunpoint gang rape by Gillooly and two other men she did not know. Gillooly, who subsequently changed his name to Jeff Stone, called the allegations "utterly ridiculous."
Tonya Harding entered the world of the celebrity sex tape with the appearance of a pornographic "Wedding Video" that showed her having sex with her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly. Gillooly, who, not long after the scandal, began to fade from prominence and changed his name to Jeff Stone, sold the tape to a tabloid show after having been implicated as a conspirator in the Kerrigan attack. Stills from the tape were published by Penthouse in September 1994, and the tape itself was released at about the same time. Harding tried to distance herself from it.