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USA Gymnastics ex-president invokes the Fifth on his handling of Larry Nassar sex-abuse scandal

Called before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday, the former president of USA Gymnastics repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when confronted about his handling of the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal.

Steve Penny was asked on more than one occasion about waiting to inform law enforcement after he first heard of allegations against Nassar in June 2015. More than a year passed before the sports doctor was ultimately arrested.

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“Based upon the advice of my attorney, I must respectfully decline to answer your question,” said Penny, who resigned in 2017 amid widespread criticism.

Hundreds of young athletes – many of them gymnasts – have come forward to tell of being molested by Nassar, who worked for USA Gymnastics, Michigan State and the U.S. Olympic team.

After pleading guilty to numerous charges, Nassar is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison.

The scandal has prompted a wave of lawsuits, with Michigan State recently announcing it will pay $500 million to settle current and future claims. USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee are still facing litigation in the matter.

On Tuesday, a former USA Gymnastics senior vice president alleged in written testimony that Penny had told her to remain quiet about the issue. Penny refused to talk about what one legislator called this “code of silence.”

“The committee respects your Constitutional rights to decline to answer questions on that ground, although we certainly would have liked to have been able to hear from you today,” Sen. Jerry Morgan (R-Kan.) later said.

As Penny left the hearing, a woman identified by the Associated Press as former gymnast Amy Compton yelled “Shame.”

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