Former USA Gymnastics president arrested

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.

Posted: Oct 18, 2018 10:02 PM
Updated: Oct 18, 2018 10:19 PM

The former head of USA Gymnastics was arrested and accused of removing documents linked to the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case from the 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.

A judge in Texas set his bail at $25,000. He has a court appearance there scheduled for October 29.

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.

'This is for every little girl'

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.

In a statement, USA Gymnastics said Penny resigned from his role in March 2017.

"We support law enforcement's efforts and have fully cooperated with the investigations by the Texas Rangers, Congress and others, and will continue do so to help the survivors and our community heal from this tragedy," the organization said.

But three-time gold medalist Aly Raisman called out the US Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics on Twitter, and highlighted past praise they'd offered to Penny.

"USAG, you treat your athletes who speak out as adversaries, but you have the nerve to state you continue to support athletes? Just because you say you support athletes in a press release or on twitter doesn't mean anything..." she wrote.

Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to accuse Nassar of abuse, praised the arrest on Facebook.

"This is for every little girl who could have been saved from Larry, and from every coach that Penny received warnings about, and then put into a file cabinet. They are worth it all. May justice continue to be done," she wrote.

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."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 22947

Reported Deaths: 977
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin7695581
Ramsey2698110
Stearns199512
Nobles14963
Anoka128963
Dakota120249
Olmsted58210
Washington57630
Kandiyohi4761
Rice4232
Clay41625
Scott3832
Todd2960
Wright2801
Mower2311
Sherburne2222
Carver1892
Benton1733
Steele1490
Blue Earth1261
Martin1265
St. Louis11714
Freeborn1020
Unassigned9410
Pine890
Nicollet827
Winona7815
Carlton730
Cottonwood690
Watonwan640
Otter Tail630
Goodhue603
Polk592
Crow Wing591
Chisago541
Itasca548
Dodge460
Le Sueur441
Meeker440
Chippewa441
Morrison410
Jackson390
Douglas390
Lyon380
Murray360
Becker360
Isanti320
McLeod300
Waseca250
Rock220
Mille Lacs191
Wabasha170
Fillmore171
Pennington170
Swift170
Sibley150
Beltrami140
Brown142
Cass132
Faribault130
Wilkin113
Norman110
Kanabec111
Pipestone100
Marshall90
Wadena80
Pope80
Aitkin70
Koochiching70
Yellow Medicine60
Lincoln50
Mahnomen51
Renville50
Big Stone40
Red Lake40
Redwood40
Clearwater30
Traverse30
Lac qui Parle30
Grant30
Houston20
Roseau20
Hubbard10
Lake10
Kittson10
Stevens10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 18559

Reported Deaths: 506
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk3930118
Woodbury267232
Black Hawk172443
Linn94176
Marshall88215
Dallas87517
Buena Vista7020
Johnson6078
Muscatine54941
Wapello5456
Crawford4892
Tama40026
Scott35210
Louisa34210
Dubuque33418
Jasper25816
Pottawattamie2348
Sioux2130
Washington1858
Wright1450
Allamakee1204
Plymouth1191
Warren1160
Story991
Mahaska918
Poweshiek898
Bremer676
Henry671
Clinton601
Des Moines591
Boone570
Taylor490
Guthrie463
Cedar461
Clarke450
Benton391
Monroe385
Jones360
Iowa350
Shelby340
Clayton323
Osceola320
Buchanan320
Webster321
Marion310
Hamilton290
Madison271
Fayette260
Cerro Gordo251
Monona240
Cherokee240
Lee240
Winneshiek230
Davis200
Grundy190
Lyon190
Jefferson190
Harrison190
Floyd181
Sac170
Dickinson160
Mills160
Hardin160
Hancock160
Humboldt150
Butler150
Delaware150
Appanoose143
Ida140
Keokuk140
Greene130
Clay130
Howard120
Audubon121
Emmet120
Lucas120
Cass110
Jackson110
Page110
Winnebago110
Franklin100
Pocahontas100
Carroll90
Van Buren90
Kossuth90
Chickasaw80
Adair80
Union70
Adams70
Montgomery60
Mitchell50
Ringgold40
Fremont40
Palo Alto30
Worth30
Calhoun20
Wayne10
Decatur10
Unassigned10
Rochester
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 57°
Mason City
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 60°
Albert Lea
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 63°
Austin
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 61°
Charles City
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 61°
Lingering showers Thursday AM will turn to sunshine by the afternoon
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Sean Weather 5/28 2

Image

Churches prepare to allow hundreds in doors

Image

Sean Weather 5/28

Image

Destination Medical Center boosting Rochester Recovery

Image

Protests at Henneppin County Government Center

Image

Rochester reacts to Minneapolis situation

Image

Unemployment numbers in Rochester

Image

DMC's five year plan and COVID-19

Image

Salvation Army Needs Hygiene Products

Image

Giving Back To Essential Workers

Community Events