Former USAG President faces sentencing


2012 Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team and Steve Penny meeting with the former President Barack Obama. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Jolie Abadi, Jewish Studies Editor

Former United States of America Gymnastics (USAG) President Steve Penny, was arrested on October 17 for tampering with evidence against convicted sex offender, Larry Nassar. Nassar was the former doctor for the USA national and Olympic gymnastics teams. He was charged with and convicted of multiple sex offenses by many well-known gymnastics stars such as Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber and Mckayla Maroney. The victims of Nassar’s abuse claimed that USAG was aware of the situation at hand, but paid the gymnasts to be quiet.     

According to The Washington Post, Maroney had told John Geddert of the abuse, the USA team coach at the time. Steve Penny, President and CEO of USAG at the time, arranged for documents linked to the case to be transferred from the Karolyi Ranch, the USAG National Training Center, to his office. The documents would have been very important in the FBI’s investigation of Nassar, but have been missing ever since. CNN stated that Penny had done this for “the purpose of impairing the ongoing investigation by destroying or hiding the documents.”

Former USAG gymnast and current USAG coach, Kylie Smith-Wolfe shared some of her thoughts on the scandal. Smith-Wolfe said, “The entire case pertaining to Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse of young girls, and now Steve Penny’s involvement, causes me to be both horrified and heartbroken. Horrified at the extent to which people, especially Steve Penny, have gone in order to protect themselves while young girls are being sexually abused, and heartbroken to know that a sport and organization which I have loved my entire life is capable of such actions. I think that Steve Penny’s arrest is a step in the right direction for both the investigation and the world because it is yet another way of showing how intolerable sexual abuse is, and how dangerous it is to be connected, in any way, to a sexual abuse case.”

It is evident through Smith-Wolfe’s response that many in the gymnastics community are disappointed in the USAG organization. Penny’s bail was set at $25,000. He is facing up to ten years in prison and he had a court appearance on October 29 to which he pleaded not guilty.