Ex-USAG president Steve Penny arrested on charge of tampering with Larry Nassar evidence

HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- Former USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny was arrested Wednesday after a Texas grand jury indicted him, alleging he tampered with evidence in the sexual assault investigation of now-imprisoned gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

In a statement issued late Wednesday night, the Walker County district attorney's office in Huntsville, Texas, said Penny was arrested by a fugitive task force in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and he awaits extradition to Texas.

The third-degree felony is punishable by two to 10 years in prison. It was unclear if Penny has an attorney. Messages left with USA Gymnastics weren't immediately returned.

Penny resigned under pressure in March 2017.

The indictment alleges Penny ordered the removal of documents from the Karolyi Ranch -- a longtime training ground near Huntsville for the country's elite gymnasts -- relating to Nassar's activities there. It alleges Penny acted after learning that Texas Rangers and Walker County authorities were investigating the ranch, which was being managed by USA Gymnastics.

The indictment states that the documents were delivered to Penny at USA Gymnastics headquarters in Indianapolis; they have not been recovered, and their whereabouts is unknown to authorities.

Nassar was charged in June with sexually assaulting six minors in Walker County. A former sports medicine trainer, Debra Van Horn, also was indicted on one count of second-degree sexual assault of a child. Prosecutors said Van Horn was charged as "acting as a party" with Nassar.

In Michigan, Nassar was sentenced earlier this year to decades in prison, after hundreds of women and girls accused him of molesting them under the guise of medical treatment. They said the abuse went as far back as the 1990s while he worked at Michigan State University and with USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.

A U.S. Senate subcommittee investigating abuse in national youth sports training organizations subpoenaed Penny for a hearing in June. Penny invoked his Fifth Amendment rights at the hearing rather than answer questions from the panel of senators.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) said their probe uncovered a memo that Penny sent to the U.S. Olympic Committee's chief of sport performance in 2013 that said, in part, "If Larry Nassar is the gatekeeper then we have a real issue." Blumenthal asked Penny for an explanation, but did not provide any additional context about the memo.

The senator also said that an email between Nassar and current USA Gymnastics CEO Ron Galimore referenced a "code of silence" and noted that Penny was aware of the code that, according to Blumenthal, "prevented young athletes from coming forward and complaining about abuse with fear of retaliation."

Galimore and Penny were both involved in keeping word about Nassar's abuse under wraps when he was first investigated by USA Gymnastics in the summer of 2015. Penny allegedly instructed gymnasts and coaches within the organization not to discuss their concerns about Nassar with anyone else.

Nassar was a former team doctor for the women's program at USA Gymnastics and for Michigan State athletics.

In Texas, a number of gymnasts who had trained at the Karolyi Ranch have said Nassar sexually assaulted them there. Walker County prosecutors have said there is no corroborated evidence of wrongdoing by world-renowned gymnastics coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi, and the couple has denied wrongdoing.

Information from ESPN's Dan Murphy and The Associated Press was used in this report.