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Steve Penny
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/C. Kaster

Former USA Gymnastics president arrested in Nassar case

October 18, 2018

Authorities believe that Steve Penny purposely disposed of documents relating to Larry Nassar's activities. Nassar was convicted of sexual assault, after being accused by more than 150 women and girls.

https://p.dw.com/p/36jsc

Disgraced former president of USA Gymnastics, Steve Penny, was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly tampering with evidence in the Larry Nassar molestation scandal. Penny had resigned in 2017, in the fallout of the abuse scandal.

Nassar was found guilty and sentenced to 175 years in prison this year, for sexually abusing female gymnasts during his tenure as team doctor. More than 150 women and girls accused the 54-year-old of abuse, including Olympic medalists Simone Biles and Aly Raisman.

Authorities investigating the Karolyi Ranch in Walker County, Texas, had turned their eye to Steve Penny's potential involvement. After a grand jury indicted him, a fugitive taskforce found and arrested him in Tennessee.

The Karolyi Ranch, belonging to world-renowned gymnastics coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi, is one of the places where Nassar's abuse took place. The couple has denied any wrongdoing or knowledge of the team doctor's activities.

Read more: 100 days of #MeToo

Missing documents

Penny is accused of having "ordered the removal of documents from the Karolyi Ranch in Walker County, Texas, that were related to the activities of Nassar at the ranch," the indictment read.

The documents had been delivered to Penny at USA Gymnastics headquarters in Indianapolis. "To date, those records have not been recovered and the location of the records is unknown," the Walker County district attorney said in a statement.

Authorities believe that Penny removed the documents when he learned of the probe at the Karolyi ranch with the explicit aim of impairing the investigation.

If he is found guilty, Penny could face two to 10 years of prison time.

Larry Nassar's molestation scandal rocked the US Gymnastics organization. The team doctor's abuse went as far back as the 1990s, taking place at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics.

jcg/msh (AFP, dpa, AP)

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