Steve Penny, former president of USA Gymnastics, was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly tampering with evidence related to the investigation into Larry Nassar. According to the indictment, Penny allegedly asked for documents at Karolyi Ranch to be removed and sent to him. The Ranch, which is located in Texas, was the women's national team training center in Texas where many of Nassar's crimes occurred. While it's unclear what the documents contain, or where they are now, sheriffs said these materials were important to their investigation.
Penny, who served as the USA Gymnastics president from 2005 until March 2017, has been a key figure in determining how Nassar was able to sexually abuse hundreds young gymnasts for decades, and how the sport's governing body attempted to cover up his crimes. As details of Nassar's crimes came to the public attention, Penny resigned from his position and has pleaded the Fifth when asked about Nassar.
But even with Penny's silence, there has been plenty of evidence that shows that he and USA Gymnastics knew about Nassar long before they did anything about it. According to emails obtained in June 2018 by the subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security, Penny told officials at USA Gymnastics not to say anything about the sexual abuse allegations against Nassar, a full six days before they went to the FBI.
In March of 2018, months after Nassar was sentenced to 40 t0 175 years in prison, gold-medal Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman sued USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic Committee, naming Penny as one of the defendants. Penny is the first person to be arrested for charges related to Nassar's crimes and if convicted, he could serve two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
In the past week, USA Gymnastics has made headlines quite a lot — and not because the 2018 World Championships are taking place this week. Just yesterday, the former interim president of the organisation, Mary Bono, stepped down from her position. "Clearly this is not a 'new' USAG. Same corrupt decisions," Raisman wrote on Twitter. "Perhaps it’s because true accountability is less likely if authority is placed in the hands of someone similarly motivated to avoid it…"
Hopefully, this news about Penny is a sign that things are moving in the right direction for the organisation and the hundreds of survivors keeping them accountable. But as many people, survivors, and athletes have pointed out, USA Gymnastics is running out of chances to right their many wrongs.
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