Steve Penny is a central figure in the USA Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal involving an alleged cover-up in the crimes of Dr. Larry Nassar, who abused hundreds of gymnasts when he was employed by USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University. He is now awaiting trial in 2021.
Stephen Penny was CEO and President of USA Gymnastics when Nassar’s repeated sexual abuse came to light in 2015. Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison, and is incarcerated near Orlando, Florida. Read more about his life in prison here.
Penny is also facing prison time if convicted of tampering with evidence in the Larry Nassar case. His case is still pending in 2021, according to the Indy Star.
Maggie Nichols was the first athlete to come forward, and became known as “Athlete A,” which is the title of Netflix’s new documentary digging into the allegations of a systemic cover-up of Nassar’s crimes. Read more about Nichols here. “Athlete A” aired on Netflix Wednesday, June 24, 2020, and was trending again in February 2021 as more viewers discovered the documentary. Read more about Athlete A, Maggie Nichols, here. John Geddert, who coached the 2012 US Olympic women’s gymnastics team, was found dead February 24, 2021 after he was charged with 24 felonies in connection with the abuse of young gymnasts, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced. Geddert was 63.
Here’s what you need to know:
Steve Penny Was Arrested in 2018 & Could Face 2 to 10 Years in Prison if Convicted
Steve Penny was arrested in October, 2018, by a U.S. Marshals task force in Gaitlinburg, Tennessee. He has not yet faced trial on the charges, which include tampering with evidence during the investigation into Larry Nassar. Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing hundreds of girls, many of whom were USA Gymnastics athletes. Read more about Nassar’s life in prison today here.
Penny’s indictment said he ordered the removal of documents from Karolyi Ranch, where Olympic athletes were trained and where some of the survivors said they were abused, according to NBC News.
Some of the documents were delivered to Penny at USA Gymnastics’ headquarters in Indianapolis, and they remain missing, the indictment said. The indictment further alleges that Penny intentionally destroyed or concealed the materials on or around Nov. 11, 2016, knowing there was an investigation in progress.
The tampering with evidence charge is a third-degree felony, which carries a term of 2 to 10 years in prison. Penny has not yet faced trial on his charge.
Penny has denied that there was any cover-up and has said he is “repulsed” by Nassar’s crimes.
Steve Penny Resigned from USA Gymnastics in 2017 & Was Permanently Banned
Steve Penny resigned as president and CEO of USA Gymnastics in October, 2017, after 12 years with the organization. His resignation came after the United States Olympic Committee board called for him to step down amidst a probe into a systemic cover-up of sexually abuse allegations.
“The Board believes this change in leadership will help USA Gymnastics face its current challenges and implement solutions to move the organization forward in promoting a safe environment for its athletes at all levels,” said Paul Parilla, chairman of the USA Gymnastics board of directors, in a statement to the Indy Star.
Penny was permanently banned from the sport and is now on its “permanently ineligible” list for violating the “SafeSport Code for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movement.” The ban came after his arrest on allegations of tampering with evidence in the Larry Nassar sex abuse case.
In a statement to NBC News, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., chairman of a Commerce subcommittee that has been investigating USA Gymnastics, said the allegations against Penny indicated that the top echelons of the organization were involved in a cover-up.
“Steve Penny’s indictment and arrest further illustrate what we already knew to be true — under Penny’s leadership, USA Gymnastics went to great lengths to alleviate its institutional liability in response to sexual misconduct by Larry Nassar, when that effort should have been spent protecting young athletes,” he said.
Last week, more than 120 survivors of sexual abuse by Nassar called for the Justice Department on Wednesday to release its inspector general’s report into the FBI’s handling of the USA Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal, NBC reported. The request came five years to the date that the abuse was first reported. Questions remain about systemic failures that allowed Nassar to abuse girls over decades.
“It’s easy to put out statements talking about how athlete care is the highest priority. But [USA Gymnastics] has been saying that for years, and all the while, this nightmare was happening,” Aly Raisman said in court, according to The Guardian.