Was Tonya Harding Guilty?

Nancy Kerrigan, Tonya Harding

A biopic of former figure skater Tonya Harding was released recently:  “I, Tonya”.  Rumor is, the star Margot Robbie will probably receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination.  Grist for the mill.

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Margot Robbie (left), Tonya Harding (right)

This article is about what really happened in 1994.  Back then, Nancy Kerrigan was the darling of the figure skating world.  She was favored to win the gold medal at the Winter Olympics.

Tonya Harding achieved fame by being the only woman who could perform the triple axle.  On the flip side, her grace and form were no match against Kerrigan, who was sometimes referred to as “Audrey Hepburn on ice”.


Thus, the plan to take Nancy out of the competition by any means necessary.  The question is:  Was Tonya Harding involved?

According to a CBS news program, the FBI had found notes in a dumpster, detailing plans to “get Kerrigan”.  Ms. Harding denies being part of the conspiracy; however, the FBI said her handwriting was found on the notes.

One idea was to kidnap her, then cut her Achilles’s tendon.  Another was to get rid of her altogether.  Eventually, Tonya’s team decided to go with a blow to her knee – fracturing her knee cap.

On January 6, 1994, the attack-man, Shane Stant was ready to go through the plan…

until he watched Nancy Kerrigan skate.  Stant said he didn’t want to go through with it and wished he could use his club (a retractable police baton) on the people who devised this scheme.  That’s why Stant hit Kerrigan, but couldn’t shatter her knee.  His conscience wouldn’t allow him.

Nancy K. recovered from her injury and went on to win the Silver Medal.  (Oksana Baiul won the gold.)

Tonya’s gang (husband Jeff Gillooly, Shawn Eckhardt, Derrick Smith and Shane Stant) were arrested and jailed.  Ms. Harding quickly pled to a lesser charge of knowing about the plan beforehand.  (Legal term “Conspiring to hinder prosecution”.)  She explained this away by saying she feared for her life.  Tonya’s punishment was community service, probation and a fine.  The FBI could no longer charge her for a more serious crime, because of her Constitution right “not being able to charge someone twice for the same crime.”

The Figure Skating Association attempted to bar Tonya Harding from performing at the Winter Olympics by replacing her with Nancy Kwan.  Instead, Tonya sued them and was allowed to skate.  She finished in eighth place.

Throughout all this, Nancy Kerrigan displayed strength, courage and beauty.

So, why does Hollywood celebrate a villain?

Text © 2018 – Eric Reports

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