Steve Penny Asked F.B.I. to Help Protect U.S.A. Gymnastics’ Image During Sex Abuse Case

Steve Penny Asked F.B.I. to Help Protect U.S.A. Gymnastics’ Image During Sex Abuse Case


What prompted Mr. Penny to describe Dr. Nassar as “squirmy” was a response from the doctor to an email from Scott D. Himsel, a lawyer for the gymnastics federation, in which he told Dr. Nassar, “because the review is ongoing, U.S.A. Gymnastics has determined that it is in everyone’s best interest that you not attend U.S.A. Gymnastics events or communicate with U.S.A. Gymnastics athletes and personnel until further notice.”

A clearly agitated Dr. Nassar wrote back: “This does not make sense to me. Please, I would like to have more details of what is happening, who has made the complaint and what the complaint is. I am confused as to what is happening here.”

At a national team training camp at the Karolyi ranch in the summer of 2015, Sarah Jantzi, a coach, overheard Maggie Nichols, a national team member, complaining that Dr. Nassar had touched her inappropriately. The coach notified the head of the women’s national team, Rhonda Faehn, who then told Mr. Penny, who started an internal investigation.

“I asked Steve Penny if I needed to report this to any other authorities and he reassured me, no, that he would handle it,” Ms. Jantzi wrote in a letter that was given to a Senate subcommittee investigating how the Nassar case was handled and how to protect athletes from sexual abuse.

Mr. Penny then heard that two more national team members — the Olympians Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney — also had concerns about Dr. Nassar.

In an email to Ms. Faehn, Mr. Penny asked her to gain the trust of Ms. Raisman and Ms. Maroney, whom he called Athlete B and Athlete C, so the gymnasts would agree to be interviewed by the federation’s private investigator. He told Ms. Faehn, “Our preference is for them to meet privately with the interviewer and not to involve their coach or parents,” a request that Ms. Faehn later told the Senate subcommittee had made her uncomfortable.

In a July 29, 2015, email that Mr. Penny sent to Mr. Abbott — whom he addresses as “Jay” — Mr. Penny sought his guidance on a proposed statement to the news media and a draft email to Dr. Nassar.



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