Former USA Gymnastics head Steve Penny arrested on tampering charges in abuse probe

By Alex Johnson |  NBC News

Penny, who resigned last year, was indicted last month on felony charges of tampering with evidence.

Steve Penny, who resigned last year as president and chief executive of USA Gymnastics, was arrested by a fugitive task force in Tennessee on Wednesday night, almost three weeks after he was secretly indicted on felony charges of tampering with evidence in the Larry Nassar molestation scandal, authorities said.

Penny was arrested in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the U.S. Marshals Service said in a statement that revealed that he was indicted Sept. 28 by a Walker County, Texas, grand jury.

According to a summary of the indictment released by Walker County prosecutors, Penny ordered the removal of documents from the Karolyi Ranch, where powerhouse Olympic teams were built and where some athletes say they were molested by Nassar, the longtime team doctor. Nassar was sentenced in February to as long as 125 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to molesting 10 girls.

The indictment alleges that some of the documents were delivered to Penny at USA Gymnastics’ headquarters in Indianapolis and that they remain missing, according to the Texas prosecutors.

The tampering charge is a third-degree felony carrying a maximum term of 10 years in prison.

No attorney of record was listed for Penny, who has denied that there was any cover-up and has said he is “repulsed” by Nassar’s crimes.

In June, Penny invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in an appearance before a Senate Commerce subcommittee investigating the scandal.

Others at the hearing testified that Penny ordered six top USA Gymnastic officials not to discuss the Nassar case with anyone; he has also been accused of having waited more than five weeks to notify the FBI of the allegations against Nassar.

Penny resigned under pressure last year after 12 years in charge of USA Gymnastics. He was being held in Sevier County, Tennessee, on Wednesday night awaiting extradition to Texas.

Penny’s arrest comes one day after former U.S. Rep. Mary Bono resigned as interim president and chief executive, less than one week into her new role.

Bono stepped down amid intense criticism from top gymnasts, who said the organization still wasn’t doing enough to reform itself.

%d bloggers like this: