Former USA Gymnastics president arrested on charge of tampering with evidence

1 year 7 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, October 18 2018 Oct 18, 2018 Thursday, October 18, 2018 8:56:00 AM CDT October 18, 2018 in News
By: Nicole Chavez and Joe Sutton, CNN

(CNN) -- The former head of USA Gymnastics has been accused of removing documents linked to the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case from the famed Karolyi Ranch gymnastics training facility in Texas, authorities said.

Steve Penny was arrested Wednesday, nearly three weeks after he was indicted by a grand jury for tampering with evidence, the Walker County District Attorney's office said.

He was detained after US Marshals tracked him to a cabin in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. He is being held at the Sevier County Jail while awaiting extradition to Walker County, Texas.

The indictment claims Penny ordered the removal of documents from the Karolyi Ranch in Walker County, Texas with "the purpose of impairing the ongoing investigation by destroying or hiding the documents," after he learned an investigation was underway, the Walker County District Attorney's office said.

Authorities claim the documents were later delivered to Penny at the USAG headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. The records are currently missing.

The documents would have helped law enforcement investigate Nassar and would have "assisted with the investigation of other offenses that may have occurred at the Karolyi Ranch," the district attorney's office said in a statement.

The training center, a 2,000-acre compound about 70 miles north of Houston, is run by longtime gymnastics coaches Martha and Bela Karolyi. It became the US Women's National Team Training Center in 2001 and a US Olympic Training Site in 2011 -- during many of the same years Nassar was the national team doctor.

USA Gymnastics agreed to buy the Karolyi Ranch in 2016 after leasing the center for years but decided not to proceed with the purchase, citing a number of reasons including "unexpected financial expenditures." Earlier this year, the organization cut ties with the facility after several gymnasts, including Simone Biles -- one of the sport's most accomplished stars -- said they were abused by Nassar at the center.

Penny's attorney, Edith Matthai, said he was arrested while on vacation with his family in Tennessee and had no knowledge that there had been an indictment in Texas.

"If Mr. Penny had any idea he was sought in Texas this would have been appropriately handled through counsel without terrifying his family," Matthai said. She added that he is confident the facts will show he did nothing criminal.

If convicted of the third-degree felony charge, Penny could face up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Texas officials investigate Nassar case

Nassar was already serving 40 to 175 years in Michigan for sexually abusing women and girls under the guise of performing medical treatment when he was indicted in June on charges linked to allegations at the Karolyi Ranch.

Nassar is facing six counts of sexual assault of a child and former USA Gymnastics trainer Deborah Van Horn is facing one count of sexual assault of a child in Texas, prosecutors said.

The indictment followed an investigation by the Texas Rangers into possible misconduct at the ranch after victims' attorneys said Nassar abused many women and girls at the training center for years.

Gov. Greg Abbott requested the investigation earlier this year saying the "recent, shocking allegations of sexual assault of athletes at the Karolyi Ranch in Walker County are deeply disturbing."

Some of Nassar's victims called on Texas officials to investigate what Martha Karolyi knew about Nassar's abuse at her training facility, but authorities cleared the Karolyis from any criminal wrongdoing in June.

"We do not believe there is any corroborative evidence with regard to Martha or Bela Karolyi that they did anything wrong," Walker County Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Stroud said at the time.

Stroud said the Karolyis were interviewed at length by investigators and they continue to cooperate with authorities.

After Nassar's indictment in June, prosecutors said the investigation is now focusing on USA Gymnastics.

The fallout from Nassar's case continues

Penny resigned from the top post at USA Gymnastics last year as the organization became embroiled in the Nassar sexual assault scandal. He had been USA Gymnastics president and chief executive officer for 12 years.

He has since declined to answer questions about the matter. In June, Penny invoked the Fifth Amendment when he appeared at a Senate hearing on the scandal.

He repeatedly refused to answer questions about Nassar and answered just one question to confirm his employment dates.

His attorney, Robert Bittman, released a statement after the hearing saying Perry devoted his career to promoting a safe environment for athletes.

"He is repulsed by Larry Nassar's crimes, and he feels nothing but compassion for the victims of those crimes. Today, on the advice of his attorney, Mr. Penny declined to testify before the subcommittee while the matters that attempt to wrongly shift blame for Nassar's crimes remain open," Bittman wrote.

USAG is struggling to recover from the scandal as several high-ranking officials have left the organization.

Penny's replacement, Kerry Perry, quit after just nine months on the job. She had been criticized for what many considered to be inadequate action during the Nassar abuse fallout.

Perry was replaced by former US Rep. Mary Bono who resigned less than a week after taking over.

Meanwhile, in August, after only three days on the job, elite development coordinator Mary Lee Tracy was asked to resign after she "inappropriately contacted a [Nassar] survivor, who is also a represented plaintiff, in response to that survivor's public criticism of her," USAG said.

And in May, USAG said the head of its women's program, Rhonda Faehn, was no longer with the organization. Then-CEO Perry would not say whether Faehn was fired or resigned, calling Faehn's departure a "personnel matter that we will not discuss in detail."

The-CNN-Wire

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Over the past week, the Columbia community has created lists of local black-owned businesses to support all over... More >>
18 minutes ago Wednesday, June 03 2020 Jun 3, 2020 Wednesday, June 03, 2020 6:02:00 PM CDT June 03, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The oncology clinic at the MU Women and Children's Hospital will be closing permanently on July 31. Families... More >>
3 hours ago Wednesday, June 03 2020 Jun 3, 2020 Wednesday, June 03, 2020 2:25:00 PM CDT June 03, 2020 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA -- Pat Fowler was elected to the First Ward City Council seat on Tuesday night. She enters the seat... More >>
3 hours ago Wednesday, June 03 2020 Jun 3, 2020 Wednesday, June 03, 2020 2:21:00 PM CDT June 03, 2020 in News
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Prosecutors are charging a Minneapolis police officer accused of pressing his knee against George Floyd’s neck with... More >>
4 hours ago Wednesday, June 03 2020 Jun 3, 2020 Wednesday, June 03, 2020 1:44:00 PM CDT June 03, 2020 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A retired police captain who died during a night of violent protests was trying to protect... More >>
5 hours ago Wednesday, June 03 2020 Jun 3, 2020 Wednesday, June 03, 2020 12:38:00 PM CDT June 03, 2020 in News
ST. LOUIS - According to a tweet posted Tuesday night on the Missouri State Highway Patrol's Twitter, a bullet pierced... More >>
9 hours ago Wednesday, June 03 2020 Jun 3, 2020 Wednesday, June 03, 2020 9:09:00 AM CDT June 03, 2020 in News
As COVID-19 spreads, KOMU 8 will continue to update you about the impacts on the community. You can find... More >>
10 hours ago Wednesday, June 03 2020 Jun 3, 2020 Wednesday, June 03, 2020 7:48:00 AM CDT June 03, 2020 in News
COLE COUNTY - The Cole County Crisis Negotiation Team and SWAT took one subject into custody after a barricade in... More >>
12 hours ago Wednesday, June 03 2020 Jun 3, 2020 Wednesday, June 03, 2020 6:10:00 AM CDT June 03, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Tuesday was the rescheduled municipal election from April. The election was initially postponed due to Coronavirus concerns. ... More >>
19 hours ago Tuesday, June 02 2020 Jun 2, 2020 Tuesday, June 02, 2020 10:25:00 PM CDT June 02, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) — The Missouri Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of a man imprisoned in a... More >>
20 hours ago Tuesday, June 02 2020 Jun 2, 2020 Tuesday, June 02, 2020 10:18:01 PM CDT June 02, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A 20-year-old Jefferson City man was arrested on suspicion of two different sodomy charges. The Fulton... More >>
20 hours ago Tuesday, June 02 2020 Jun 2, 2020 Tuesday, June 02, 2020 10:05:00 PM CDT June 02, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - A 25-year-old woman is sharing her story after she was hit by a car Monday during a protest... More >>
20 hours ago Tuesday, June 02 2020 Jun 2, 2020 Tuesday, June 02, 2020 9:44:00 PM CDT June 02, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Protests continued along Broadway in downtown Columbia Tuesday night. During the protest, Columbia police officers took a... More >>
20 hours ago Tuesday, June 02 2020 Jun 2, 2020 Tuesday, June 02, 2020 9:34:00 PM CDT June 02, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A Missouri judge has dismissed two lawsuits against a ballot proposal to expand Medicaid health care... More >>
21 hours ago Tuesday, June 02 2020 Jun 2, 2020 Tuesday, June 02, 2020 8:51:39 PM CDT June 02, 2020 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A coronavirus outbreak at a Kansas City paper plant has infected more than 200 people. ... More >>
21 hours ago Tuesday, June 02 2020 Jun 2, 2020 Tuesday, June 02, 2020 8:45:51 PM CDT June 02, 2020 in News
FORT LEONARD WOOD - A Department of Army civilian died at Fort Leonard Wood following a crane incident around 2... More >>
22 hours ago Tuesday, June 02 2020 Jun 2, 2020 Tuesday, June 02, 2020 7:30:02 PM CDT June 02, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Gov. Mike Parson announced Monday he is withholding $131 million from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education... More >>
22 hours ago Tuesday, June 02 2020 Jun 2, 2020 Tuesday, June 02, 2020 7:30:00 PM CDT June 02, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - After several days of protests around the state of Missouri, Columbia Police Chief Geoff Jones released a statement... More >>
23 hours ago Tuesday, June 02 2020 Jun 2, 2020 Tuesday, June 02, 2020 6:59:00 PM CDT June 02, 2020 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 88°
7pm 86°
8pm 78°
9pm 79°
10pm 78°