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USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny resigns amid abuse scandal

The embattled president of USA Gymnastics resigned Thursday amid an ongoing sexual-assault scandal that has rocked his sport.

Steve Penny announced his decision during a conference call with his board of directors, the organization said.

“The Board believes this change in leadership will help USA Gymnastics face its current challenges and implement solutions to move the organization forward in promoting a safe environment for its athletes at all levels,” Chairman Paul Parilla said in a statement.

USA Gymnastics has come under fire in the months since the Indianapolis Star reported on more than 360 instances of gymnastics athletes accusing coaches and officials of sexual transgressions over the last two decades.

Dozens of those cases involve Larry Nassar, a former physician for the U.S. national team and Michigan State University who now faces multiple criminal charges.

Last week, amid calls for Penny’s ouster, U.S. Olympic Committee leaders delivered a missive to the gymnastics governing body but declined to confirm that they recommended Penny’s dismissal.

“Today's announcement will hopefully allow USA Gymnastics to shift its attention to the future with a secure environment for its athletes and continued success in competition,” USOC Chairman Larry Probst said Thursday.

A national search for a new president and chief executive will begin immediately, the USA Gymnastics board said.

Parilla will serve as interim leader and promised to move forward with initiatives to strengthen the organization’s policies and procedures for handling sexual misconduct.

“USA Gymnastics and the entire gymnastics community must work together to focus on keeping athletes safe,” he said, adding: “Everyone can be an active and vigilant participant for this to be effective, not only in gymnastics but also the Olympic movement as a whole.”

david.wharton@latimes.com

Follow @LAtimesWharton on Twitter

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UPDATES:

12:30 p.m.: This article was updated with staff reporting.

12:05 p.m.: This article was updated with a statement from Penny and additional background information on the sex abuse scandal.

This article was originally published at 11:25 a.m.

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