A Los Angeles Superior Court judge agreed to delay a deposition the former USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny was to give in relation to sex abuse allegations brought against Team USA’s former physician by a former member of the team. The reason for the delay? Penny’s legal team told Judge Susan Bryant-Deason that Penny needed to attend the Indianapolis 500 later this month to network to find a new job, the Orange County Register reports.
The request originated from Daniel White, Penny’s attorney, who initially sent an email to the former gymnast’s attorney Vince Finaldi on May 3 explaining that because Penny was no longer employed, Penny, who lives in Indiana, would need to attend the race and other race festivities to look for new opportunities.
The email obtained by the Register, however, failed to disclose the reason Penny left his position as USA Gymnastics’ chief in March was because he was heavily criticized over the way his organizations handled allegations of sex abuse, including complaints from the alleged victim in this case.
That detail did not appear to be forgotten by Finaldi, who the Register reports replied “within minutes” to White’s email with disbelief.
“I hope you can step back for a second, evaluate, and see how ludicrous your client’s position is,” Finaldi wrote to White. “We have motions to oppose and he can’t participate in discovery because he has parties to attend. That is just beyond the pale. Especially considering how many children were sexually abused on his watch. It just supports our position that he never really did care much about the kids. It was all about his job and the bottom line.”
In a second email sent that same day, Finaldi questioned the length of time White requested the deposition be delayed. The Indy 500 takes place on May 28, but White said his client wouldn’t be available until June 5, the day the judge on Thursday set the new date for the deposition.
“Exactly how many parties is [Penny] going to be attending?” Finaldi asked. “It’s just inconceivable to me that he is unavailable at all until June 5 because of these soirees. And those events do not justify avoidance of a deposition.”
According to the paper, the former gymnast’s legal team had offered up five dates in May to take Penny’s deposition, which they say is necessary to meet a June legal deadline pertaining to the suit filed against several current and former parties linked to the U.S. national team. They include Lawrence Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics women’s national team physician alleged to have committed the abuse, as well as the sport’s governing body USA Gymnastics, former U.S. national team coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi, the Los Angeles-based All Olympia Gymnastics Center, Penny and other USA Gymnastics officials said to have inappropriately dealt with complaints of abuse.
Judge Bryant-Deason did not publicly comment on her latest ruling, and neither White nor Finaldi have publicly commented either.