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Former USA Gymnastics president arrested on charge of tampering with evidence in Larry Nassar case

Former USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny was arrested in Tennessee on Wednesday, accused of tampering with evidence by withholding documents pertaining to the investigation of sexual assault claims against former team doctor Larry Nassar. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

The former head of USA Gymnastics was arrested Wednesday, weeks after a Texas grand jury indicted him for tampering with evidence.

Steve Penny is accused of ordering the removal of documents related to the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case from the Karolyi Ranch training facility in Walker County, Texas, USA Today reported.

What are the details?

Penny is being detained in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, awaiting transfer to Texas. His attorney, Edith Matthai told USA Today in an email, "When he went to Tennessee on a vacation with his family, Mr. Penny had no knowledge there had been an indictment in Texas. He was arrested when a team of armed marshals suddenly arrived at the vacation cabin while he was sitting with his wife and three children."

According to a statement from the Walker County district attorney, Penny is accused of having documents pertaining to the Nassar scandal shipped from Texas to the USA Gymnastics headquarters in Indianapolis. The whereabouts of the documents are currently unknown.

"The indictment further alleges that the removal of the documents was done for the purpose of impairing the ongoing investigation by destroying or hiding the documents," the release said.

"The Texas Rangers and the detectives believe that those records are material to their investigation and that the removal of the records by Penny prevented them from reviewing documents that would have helped their investigation of Nassar as well as assisted with the investigation of other offenses that may have occurred at the Karolyi Ranch," the statement continued.

CNN reported that if Penny is convicted of the third-degree felony charge of tampering with evidence, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

What's the background?

Penny resigned as president of USA Gymnastics in March 2017 over growing criticism of how the organization attempted to bury hundreds of abuse allegations against coaches and other team staffers spanning two decades. Penny had served in the lead role since 2005 and had worked at the organization since 1999, according to the Indianapolis Star.

During a Senate hearing investigating the sexual abuse allegations against Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor, in June, Penny repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendments rights and refused to answer questions about the disgraced physician.

Nassar is already serving a sentence of 40 to 175 years for abusing women and girls while working as a doctor at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics. Texas opened its own investigation into the matter earlier this year after attorneys for Nassar's victims said he had abused girls at the Walker County training facility.

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