News Roundup: Former USA Gymnastics President Indicted In Abuse Scandal, Awaits Extradition To Texas

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelOctober 19, 2018 1:07 pm

The former president of USA Gymnastics is not yet in Texas after being indicted in Walker County.

Steve Penny is accused of tampering with evidence relating to the investigation of former team doctor Larry Nassar. Nassar was sentenced to decades in prison earlier this year after he was accused of abusing hundreds of women and girls while a doctor at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics.

Stephanie Stroud, first assistant district attorney at the Walker County District Attorney’s Office in Huntsville, shared details of the indictment with Texas Standard.

“The indictment alleges that Mr. Penny, after knowing that the Texas Rangers were investigating allegations against Dr. Larry Nassar that may have occurred here in Walker County at the Karoyli Ranch … ordered the removal of documents from that location,” Stroud says. “And those documents were related to Dr. Nassar and his activities at the ranch.”

Karolyi Ranch used to serve as the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center.

U.S. Marshals arrested Penny in Tennessee on Wednesday, and he’s awaiting extradition to Texas. Stroud says it’s not clear how long that process will take, but a court date is set for Penny here.

“He currently has a case pending in the 278th Judicial District Court,” she says. “He has a court date on October 29th. If he’s returned to Texas by that time, he’ll be arraigned on that date and we’ll proceed through the court process.”

If convicted, Penny faces up to a $10,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison. In a statement, USA Gymnastics says they “support law enforcement’s efforts.”

Three conservation groups are suing the Trump Administration over its plan to waive more than two-dozen environmental laws to expedite border wall construction. As Natalie Krebs reports, at issue is an 18-mile stretch of land in the Rio Grande Valley that includes several nature preserves.

The proposed wall, gates and infrastructure would run though a national wildlife refuge and the Bentson-Rio Grande State Park among others. Environmental groups say the 30-foot levee-style wall could cause flooding and threaten dozens of rare species.

Last week, the federal government said the waivers are necessary to stop the flow of drugs and undocumented immigrants into the country. But conservation groups argue the Trump Administration doesn’t have the authority to bypass laws that like the National Environmental Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.

‘They are doing something completely unprecedented,” says Jean Su, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. “They are asking for waivers that Senate and Congress has never mandated.”

The Department of Homeland Security has not yet announced a timeline for the construction of the wall.

More than $1.2 million dollars donated to victims of the Santa Fe High School shooting will be distributed within the next few weeks.

A student shot and killed 10 people and injured 13 others on May 18.

The steering committee for the Santa Fe Strong Fund says the money will go to families of the deceased, people who were wounded, and people who were in the art labs when the shooting happened.

Families of those who were killed will receive $71,000.

People present in the classrooms, but not wounded, will receive $5,000.