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Former USA Gymnastics president arrested for alleged tampering

© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP | Former USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny testifies to the Senate Committee On Preventing Abuse And Ensuring Safe Environment For Athletes

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - 

Former USA Gymnastics

president Steve Penny, who resigned from his post last year, was arrested Wednesday in connection with the Larry Nassar molestation scandal, US media reported.

The arrest came after Penny was indicted three weeks ago by a grand jury on felony charges of allegedly tampering with evidence in the sexual assault investigation of former gymnastics doctor Nassar, the Huntsville Item newspaper reported.

Penny was arrested by a police task force in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and is awaiting extradition to Texas, prosecutors said in a press release Wednesday night.

According to the indictment, Penny is alleged to have tampered with evidence during the investigation of Nassar by ordering the removal of documents from the Karolyi Ranch in Walker County, Texas that were related to the activities of Nassar at the ranch. The indictment alleges the removal of the documents was done to destroy or hide the documents and impair the investigation.

"During the investigation by the Texas Rangers and the Walker County Sheriff?s Office, several sources reported that Penny ordered the removal of the documents from the ranch after learning that an investigation was underway," the Item quoted Walker County district attorney David Weeks saying.

The documents in question were from the Korolyi Ranch, the base for the gold-medal winning US Olympic teams. It is also the location where several athletes say Nassar molested them.

In February, Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison after he pled guilty to molesting 10 girls.

Penny could be facing between two to 10 years in jail on a third degree felony charge.

"Deputy U.S. Marshals and task force officers from the Southern District of Texas and the Eastern District Tennessee worked tirelessly to locate Penny," US Marshal for the Eastern District of Tennessee David Jolley said in a news release. "Good police work ensured that Penny was swiftly and safely apprehended. He will now face the charges against him."

Penny's arrest also comes a day after the newly appointed interim president and chief executive of USA Gymnastics, Mary Bono, resigned just days after being named to the job following stinging criticism by Olympic stars Simone Biles and Aly Raisman.

The 56-year-old Bono drew the ire of Olympic superstar Biles over a tweet posted by Bono last month in which she was critical of apparel maker Nike following the company's ad campaign featuring ex-NFL star Colin Kaepernick.

Penny's arrest and Bono's resignation are further blows to USA Gymnastics, which has lurched from one self-inflicted crisis to the next as it struggles to rebuild in the aftermath of the Nassar sex abuse scandal.

© 2018 AFP