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Ex-Michigan State gymnastics coach charged with lying amid Larry Nassar investigation

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LANSING, Mich. — A former Michigan State gymnastics coach was charged Thursday with lying to police during the investigation into the school’s handling of sexual abuse complaints against former sports doctor Larry Nassar.

Kathie Klages, who resigned in 2017 after she was suspended for defending the now-imprisoned Nassar, is now the third person other than Nassar to face criminal charges in the case. If convicted of the felony and misdemeanor counts, she could face up to four years in prison.

Charging documents don’t specify what Klages is accused of lying about, though she has denied allegations that former gymnast Larissa Boyce told her that Nassar abused her in 1997, when Boyce was 16.

Boyce had been training with the Spartan youth gymnastics team at the time. Boyce has said Klages dissuaded her from taking the issue further, even after another young gymnast relayed similar allegations.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Klages has a criminal defense lawyer. A message seeking comment Thursday was left with attorneys defending her in civil lawsuits.

The charges were announced by special independent counsel Bill Forsyth, who was appointed by the state attorney general to investigate the university.

Hundreds of girls and women have said Nassar sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment when he was a physician, including while he worked at Michigan State and Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains U.S. Olympians.

Nassar, 55, was convicted of molesting athletes and possessing child pornography during separate trials that began last year, and his sentences equate to life in prison.

Others charged amid the investigations into Nassar include the former dean of the university’s osteopathic medicine school, William Strampel, who had oversight of Nassar.

He is accused of neglecting his duty to enforce examining-room restrictions imposed on Nassar after a patient accused him in 2014 of sexual contact.

Strampel was charged and later retired. He also has been accused of sexual harassment by three women, including two medical students, who alleged bawdy talk about sex and nude photos, and a groping incident.

In Texas, a grand jury indicted former sports medicine trainer Debra Van Horn on one count of second-degree sexual assault of a child, making her the first person other than Nassar to be charged in direct connection with the assaults.

The local prosecutor has said she was charged as “acting as a party” with Nassar, but he didn’t elaborate. Van Horn had worked at USA Gymnastics for 30 years.

Investigators have said Nassar’s crimes were mostly committed in Michigan at a campus clinic, area gyms and his Lansing-area home. Accusers also said he molested them at a gymnastics-training ranch in Texas, where Nassar also faces charges, and at national and international competitions.

Michigan State softball, volleyball, and track and field athletes have also said they told a coach and trainers about Nassar’s inappropriate behavior.

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Rewind: Australia’s Steven Bradbury gains gold and lasting fame after pileup takes out Apolo Ohno

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Heading into the 2002 Winter Olympics, young American Apolo Ohno was a phenom with a legitimate shot at multiple medals in short-track speedskating.

The 1999 world junior champion and future “Dancing with the Stars” champion had finished first in the World Cup season standings in all three individual disciplines in the 2000-01 season. In the 2001 world championships, he took gold in the relay and the 3,000m (a non-Olympic event), silver in the 1,000m and fourth in the 1,500m.

Australia’s Steven Bradbury was at the other end of his career, enduring all sorts of misfortune in the years that followed — a 1995 accident in which he needed more than 100 stitches after a skate blade sliced his thigh, then a 2000 accident in which he broke two vertebra in his neck. 

The highlights of Bradbury’s career were relay world championships medals — gold in 1991, bronze in 1993, silver in 1994. He and his relay teammates also took Olympic bronze in 1994.

Bradbury barely advanced to one individual final, the 1,000m in 2002. He advanced from the quarterfinal when Canadian favorite Marc Gagnon was disqualified. He advanced from the semifinal when multiple skaters fell.

In the final, Bradbury was matched up against three outstanding skaters, including Ohno and Li Jiajun of China, who won this event and the overall title at the 2001 world championships. Ohno and Li had finished 1-2 in the 1,000m World Cup standings in 2001.

Bradbury couldn’t keep up. The other four skaters were in a pack, making dangerous passes among each other, while Bradbury fell further and further behind.

Those dangerous passes finally caught up to the rest of the field in the final turn. Li bumped into Ohno, which would lead to Li’s disqualification. After the lead pack jockeyed for position through the entire race, all four tumbled to the ice.

Bradbury, the last man standing, crossed the finish line first.

 

From the tangled pile-up, Ohno managed to fling himself, skate-first, across the finish line to take silver. Canada’s Mathieu Turcotte made it across for bronze.

Ohno wasn’t done in Salt Lake City. He won the 1,500m gold after the disqualification of Kim Dong-Sung, a controversial decision that made Ohno the object of South Korean derision.

Less controversially, Ohno won three more individual world championship events from 2005 to 2009, plus two relay golds, and the overall world title in 2008. In the Olympics, he took six more medals, including gold in the 500m in 2006 and silver in the 1,500m in 2010.

Bradbury missed the finals in the other two events in Salt Lake City, but his name lives on in the Urban Dictionary and elsewhere as a synonym for an improbable and even accidental victory. He embraced his unique place in history to carve out a career as a motivational speaker delivering more than 1,000 speeches in 19 countries, according to the International Skating Union and has even seen his win commemorated in Legos.

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Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier form new figure skating pair

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A few weeks after her husband and skating partner, Chris Knierim, stepped away from competitive figure skating, Alexa Scimeca Knierim has a new partner.

Brandon Frazier, who was also looking for someone to form a new pair after longtime partner Haven Denney stepped away from competition, at least temporarily, will join Scimeca Knierim on the ice whenever they’re able to train and compete again.

Frazier is a longtime friend of Chris Knierem. Scimeca Knierim told U.S. Figure Skating’s FanZone that Frazier had played a pivotal role in kindling the Knierem’s off-ice romance.

Denney and Frazier won the U.S. championship in 2017 and finished 20th in the world championships that year. They finished third in their two Grand Prix assignments last fall — Skate America and the Internationaux de France. They were runners-up in the 2019 U.S. championships and fifth this year, when they revived their “Lion King” free skate.

The Denney-Frazier pair took an unusual path to figure skating, starting as roller skaters.

The Knierims won their third U.S. championship in January but handed their slot in the world championships to Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson when Chris Knierim, struggling with his form and depression, decided he was unable to continue beyond the Four Continents Championship. The world championships were later canceled due to the spread of the coronavirus.

READ: Resilient Knierims withdraw from world championships

The couple had earned attention for their romance and for their inspirational returns from illness and injury. Their U.S. championship win earlier this year was their third.

Skate America, the first event on the Grand Prix circuit, is scheduled to start Oct. 23 in Las Vegas.

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