Houston Matters

Walker County Subpoenas USA Gymnastics Documents

The Walker County District Attorney’s Office has issued a subpoena to USAG for any and all documents taken from the Karolyi Ranch since January 1, 2016.

In this Sept, 12, 2015 photo, a sign points down the road to the Karolyi Ranch near New Waverly, Texas. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, ordered a criminal investigation into claims that former doctor Larry Nassar abused some of his victims at the Texas ranch that was the training ground for U.S. women’s gymnastics.

The Walker County District Attorney’s office has issued a subpoena to USA Gymnastics for documents that relate to the Larry Nassar sexual assault investigation, according to a statement from the DA’s office provided to Houston Matters.

“The Walker County District Attorney’s Office has issued a subpoena to USAG for any and all documents taken from the Karolyi Ranch since January 1, 2016,” reads the statement from First Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Stroud.

Karolyi Ranch is the U.S. Olympic training facility in southeast Texas where Nassar treated athletes and where several gymnasts said they were abused.

The statement continues: “We have no knowledge of what documents may be in the possession of USAG or the contents of those documents. We hope to take possession of the documents as soon as possible so that they can be reviewed by investigators and any relevant information can be investigated.”

The subpoena follows a statement released on Thursday by USA Gymnastics saying it sent a letter to the Waller County District Attorney’s office informing them of documents that could be tied to the investigation. But, according to the statement, given that the documents contain “personally identifying information,” Walker County would have to issue a subpoena to obtain them.

“USA Gymnastics possesses documents that may have come from the Ranch that may be applicable to the investigation, though none of these documents contain Nassar’s name,” reads part of the statement. “Since the Board of Directors was seated only in late June 2018, it has no way of knowing if the documents are relevant to the case or if they originated at the Ranch. In light of the recent media statements, USA Gymnastics informed the District Attorney about the documents in case they are helpful to the investigation.”

In October, USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny was arrested and facing allegations of tampering with evidence tied to the ranch. He was accused of ordering documents related to Nassar’s activities at Karolyi Ranch to be removed from there.

“What happened was in 2016 Texas Rangers descended on the ranch, and asked for documents related to Nassar,” Alexandra Starr, who has been regularly reporting on USA Gymnastics for NPR, told Houston Matters. She said that people at the ranch called USA gymnastics, which on the advice of their counsel, said to turn them away since they didn’t have a warrant.

“In the interim, enough documents to apparently fill two suitcases, a binder, were removed from the ranch and sent back to headquarters in Indianapolis,” Starr said. “It was under the orders of Steve Penny. Now of course he and his attorneys are back pedaling, trying to say he did nothing wrong, and they keep saying that he did that on the advice of counsel.”

On Monday, the U.S. Olympic Committee took steps to decertify USA Gymnastics as the national governing body for the sport at the Olympic level.

“That is a so-called nuclear option. This is only the fourth time it’s happened, and generally it’s been used with more minor sports like taekwondo and USA handball,” Starr said. “It’s a very big deal to essentially take over the governance of a governing body that oversees such a huge and popular sport.”

In the full Houston Matters segment above reporter Alexandra Starr speaks more about the ongoing investigation and the reporting she has been doing.

Share