By Joseph B. Frazier
VANCOUVER, Wash. – Tonya Harding’s fortunes took another plunge Friday when a judge evicted her from her home for failing to pay the rent.
Seven years ago, Harding’s figure skating career took a dive because of a knee-whacking attack on rival Nancy Kerrigan. Two years ago, Harding was in court for throwing a hubcap at her boyfriend.
And now, Harding’s been thrown out of her rented home near Camas, just east of Portland, Ore., and Vancouver.
“Unfortunately, me and my dog are going to sleep in a Corvette roadster,” Harding told reporters after arriving too late for the hearing at Clark County Superior Court. She laughed when she said it.
Judge Diane Woolard ordered Harding out of the house for failing to pay rent, late fees and other costs of $4,530.
Rick Pomerville, attorney for Harding’s landlord, said the sheriff’s department has determined the day and time by which Harding would have to leave the premises, but that his client did not want it disclosed. Earlier, he said the date likely would be sometime next week.
“If she does not move by then, her personal belongings will be moved out onto the street. We hope this will not happen,” Pomerville said.
After showing up at the courthouse late, Harding said her car had broken down. She attempted to tell her side of the story, but Judge Woolard refused to admit it, saying the hearing was over and the lawyers were gone.
She said she had been intending to pay the rent but has been unable to. The 31-year-old said she had recently returned from an appearance in France and had only been paid on Thursday.
“I don’t think there’s any objection to what is owed. I’m going to pay it,” she said.
Once a top figure skater, Harding’s life has been shadowed by scandal since the knee-whacking attack on Kerrigan in Detroit before the 1994 U.S. National Championships and the Winter Olympics.
In the Kerrigan attack, Harding claimed her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, hatched the plot and carried it out, and her only role was covering it up. As a result, the U.S. Figure Skating Association banned Harding for life.
Harding’s last court appearance was in May 2000, when she was sentenced to three days in the Clark County Jail for assaulting her then-boyfriend with a hubcap.
Harding has been paying her bills by making public appearances – most of which have played up her notoriety.
She showed up as a contestant on TV’s “The Weakest Link” last October, alongside other hard-luck celebrities including Gennifer Flowers, Darva Conger and Kato Kaelin. Harding didn’t make it past the second round.
Harding has also hosted “Bad Boys Week” on the cable TV channel TNN, appeared on talk shows and signed autographs for fans of the Jacksonville Suns, a minor league baseball team in Florida.
Harding and her manager, Linda Lewis, have been renting a 1,300-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom ranch house overlooking the Columbia River since August 2000.
On Jan. 9, Harding and Lewis were served a three-day notice either to pay their $1,195 monthly rent for November, December and January, plus late fees, or leave.
Harding was represented at Friday’s hearing by Lewis, whose name appears on the lease along with Harding’s.
Property owner Dale Anderson told the court many people have asked him why he didn’t force Harding out before now.
“She has done gigs before and come through and paid the rent,” he said.
Harding complained to reporters about the poor condition of the house, saying there were asbestos and mold problems, sewer problems that left her without running water for six days, and a furnace that caught on fire twice. She said she felt the house should have been condemned.
Harding’s former agent, David Hans Schmidt, said Friday that he is close to closing a $1 million media deal for Harding and for Gillooly, who masterminded the knee-whacking incident and who now goes by the name of Jeff Stone.
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