October 18, 2018 / 6:42 AM / a year ago

Former USAG chief accused of evidence tampering

The former president and CEO of scandal-marred USA Gymnastics was arrested Wednesday in Tennessee, accused in a warrant of tampering with evidence in the investigation of allegations of sexual abuse at the Karolyi Ranch near Huntsville, Texas.

Steve Penny, former president of USA Gymnastics arrives for a hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee in Washington, U.S., June 5, 2018. REUTERS/ Leah Millis

The U.S. Marshals Service took Steve Penny into custody, and he was being held at the Sevier County Jail while extradition proceedings to Texas were beginning.

A grand jury in Walker County, Texas, indicted Penny on Sept. 28, accusing him of ordering the removal of documents from the Karolyi Ranch, the site of monthly training camps for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team.

It also was one of the sites where some 350 girls and young women, among them Olympic champions Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney, have said that team doctor Larry Nassar molested them under the guise of medical treatment.

Nassar, who also was a team physician at Michigan State, was sentenced to 40 years to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct in Ingham County, Mich., in January.

The grand jury investigating Penny, 54, concluded that the documents he ordered removed were delivered to him in Indianapolis. Where those documents were taken next has not been determined, according to reporting from USA Today.

The evidence-tampering charge is a third-degree felony, and it could bring two to 10 years in prison.

“The removal of the documents was done for the purpose of impairing the ongoing investigation by destroying or hiding the documents,” according to a statement from the Walker County District Attorney’s office.

“The Texas Rangers and the detectives believe that those records ... would have helped in their investigation of Nassar as well as assisted with the investigation of other offenses that may have occurred at the Karolyi Ranch,” the statement read.

The arrest came one day after USA Gymnastics’ interim president, Mary Bono, announced her resignation after her hiring was questioned by Biles, Raisman and others. The organization is still seeking a successor to Kerry Perry, who resigned under pressure in September.

Perry had replaced Penny, who resigned in March 2017.

—Field Level Media

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