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Ex-USA Gymnastics president arrested in Nassar sex abuse case

By Ray Downs
Ex-USA Gymnastics president arrested in Nassar sex abuse case
Dr. Larry Nassar listens to the victim impact statements during court proceedings in the sentencing phase in Lansing, Mich., on Jan. 16. On Wednesday, former Team USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny was arrested, accused of tampering with evidence in the Nassar investigation. File Photo by Rena Laverty/EPA-EFE

Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Steve Penny, former president of USA Gymnastics, was arrested Wednesday in Tennessee, accused of tampering with evidence in the investigation of convicted sex abuser and former gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

Penny was arrested in Gatlinburg, Tenn., and will be extradited to Walker County, Texas, where a grand jury indicted him on Sept. 28 on one count of tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison, USA Today reported.

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According to the indictment, Penny ordered the removal of documents from the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center at Karolyi Ranch in Walker County, Texas, when he learned that an investigation into sexual abuse allegations against Nassar was underway. Nassar was sentenced in February to 40 to 125 years in prison.

"The investigation revealed that the documents were delivered to Penny at the USAG headquarters in Indianapolis, Ind.," the indictment said. "To date, those records have not been recovered and the location of the records is unknown. 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 in their investigation of Nassar, as well as assisted with the investigation of other offenses that may have occurred at the Karolyi Ranch."

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The indictment does not specify when the evidence was tampered with, but Penny resigned in March 2017 as federal investigators were looking into the allegations against Nassar, who had been accused of sexually abusing several minor girls on the USA gymnastics team.

Edith Matthai, Penny's attorney, said Penny was on vacation with his family in Tennessee when he was arrested and denies the charges.

"If Mr. Penny had any idea he was sought in Texas, this would have been appropriately handled through counsel without terrifying his family," Matthai told the Houston Chronicle. "Mr. Penny has not and would not have attempted to avoid the service of a summons."

RELATED Disgraced gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar sent to another prison

She added: "Mr. Penny is confident that when all the facts are known the allegations against him will be disproven."

RELATED NCAA clears Michigan State University in Nassar probe

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