Harding Pleads Innocent

Tanya Harding converses with her lawyer Steve Thayer at hearing Thursday.

Figure skating bad girl Tonya Harding is at it again.

She pleaded innocent Thursday to charges she smacked her live-in boyfriend in the nose with a hubcap and bloodied his face with her fists.

Harding, whose downfall in the sport began with the plot to hobble rival Nancy Kerrigan in 1994, was released without bail and ordered to stay away from alcohol, weapons and the boyfriend, 28-year-old Darren Silver.

A sullen-looking Harding hung her head in court and mumbled that she understood the judge's conditions of her release.

Harding, 29, was ordered to return to court March 8 for a pretrial hearing. She faces up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine if convicted of the misdemeanor assault charge.

Harding said afterward she was merely trying to defend herself when she got into the fight Tuesday night with Silver, who sat quietly in the back of the courtroom with his lawyer during the proceeding in this town outside Portland, Ore.

"I'm very saddened by this whole ordeal," said Harding, who made no other comments.

In a recording of a 911 call released Wednesday by police, Harding says she punched Silver in the face because he came after her and pushed her down.

Silver can be heard in the background on the tape: "I did not! You are a liar! You are a liar! You are a felon and I have nothing to hide!"

Police say Harding hurled a hubcap at Silver, hitting him in the nose, and punched him repeatedly.

Harding's lawyer, Steve Thayer, said Silver has moved out of the skater's rural home.

Police believe alcohol was involved in the fight, and TV crews that tailed Harding found her visiting taverns after she was arrested and released.

Harding has performed just three times in public since the 1994 Winter Olympics, when she failed to win a medal and burst into tears while pleading with skating judges to let her fix a broken shoelace just after she got onto the ice.

Last October, her agent, Michael Rosenberg, engineered her appearance at the ESPN Professional Skating Championships in Huntington, W. Va., where Harding placed second.

She also appeared briefly on ice in February 1998 for a Fox TV "reunion" with Nancy Kerrigan. At a two-minute performance at a minor league hockey game in Reno, Nev., in 1997, the audience tossed a couple of collapsible batons on the ice in a reference to the Kerrigan attack.

In one of the more bizarre episodes, Harding claimed in 1997 that she was abducted by a stranger at knifepoint and escaped only by driving her truck into a tree.

"Tonya is really a tragic figure," Rosenberg said from his office in Palm Springs, Calif.

He said he had lined up offers for two major ice show tours this fall, but now "both producers have cold feet because of the assault charge."

In the Kerrigan attack, Harding claimed her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, hatched the plot and carried it out, ad her only role was covering it up.

As a result, the U.S. Figure Skating Association banned Harding for life.

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