Kathie Klages

AP

Ex-Michigan State gymnastics coach sentenced in case tied to Larry Nassar

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LANSING, Mich. — A former Michigan State University head gymnastics coach was sentenced Tuesday to 90 days in jail for lying to police during an investigation into former Olympic and university doctor Larry Nassar.

Kathie Klages, 65, was found guilty in February of a felony and a misdemeanor for denying she knew of Nassar’s abuse prior to 2016 when survivors started to come forward publicly. She also was sentenced to 18 months of probation.

Klages testified at trial, and in a tearful statement Tuesday, that she did not remember being told about the abuse. She said she had been seeing a therapist to try to remember the conversations, and she apologized to victims if they occurred.

“Even when I don’t express it to others, I struggle with what I’ve been accused of and what my role in this tragedy may have been,” she said in court.

Two women testified in November 2018 that they told Klages in 1997 that Nassar had sexually abused them and spoke Tuesday in court ahead of the sentencing. One of the women, Larissa Boyce, testified that Klages held up a piece of paper in front of the then-teenager and warned that if she filed a report there could be serious consequences.

“I am standing here representing my 16-year-old self who was silenced and humiliated 23 years ago and, unfortunately, all of the hundreds of girls that were abused after me,” Boyce said.

Nassar was sentenced in 2018 to 40 to 175 years in prison for decades of molestation of young women and girls under the guise of medical treatment

The other woman who testified but has not publicly identified herself read statements from other alleged victims. The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sex crimes unless they grant permission.

She said the way Klages refused to take responsibility and how their memories and testimony were refuted by the defense was “backwards and disappointing”.

“My hope was that she would be sorry and deeply apologize, but that is not the case,” she said. “The first and only adult I had ever told just cancelled all of my intuitions that sexual abuse is real and painful. She silenced me not only when I was 14 but for 20 years, as I did not have the confidence to speak up about it again.”

Klages attorney, Mary Chartier, has said if the case had not involved Nassar, Klages would never have been found guilty. She called Nassar a “master manipulator” and said Klages sent her granddaughter, daughter and sons to Nassar for health care.

Chartier tried to mitigate Klages’ part in the abuse, saying she was among “thousands” who had been present in the room during Nassar’s treatments, including parents.

Nassar’s accusers say he molested them with his ungloved hands, often without explanation, while they were seeking help for various injuries. He sometimes used a sheet or his body to block the view of any parent in the room.

“Numerous people were told about the procedure — nurses, athletic trainers at other schools, psychologists, doctors and a high school counselor — and they did nothing,” Chartier said, quoting investigation reports. “Most notably, police and prosecutors were aware of the procedures, and they did nothing. To ignore this and claim that Mrs. Klages could have stopped the devastation wrought by Mr. Nassar is just plain false.”

Nearly 200 letters were submitted to the judge on Klages’ behalf, including from former gymnasts.

Chartier argued that jail was an unfit punishment for Klages as a non-violent first offender, and because of her age and a heart murmur, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Defense planned to appeal the sentence.

After the hearing, Boyce said she was relieved to have testified against Klages and Nassar.

“I feel much lighter. I feel like I can breathe. I feel like I can finally move forward and past all this,” Boyce said. “I hope that the fact that she got jail time deters other people and people truly believe children and women who come forward with allegations of assault.”

Klages is the second person to be convicted of charges related to Nassar’s case. Nassar’s boss at Michigan State, ex-College of Osteopathic Medicine Dean William Strampel, was sentenced to jail for crimes including neglecting a duty to enforce protocols on Nassar after a patient complained about sexual contact in 2014.

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Ex-Michigan State gymnastics coach convicted in case tied to Larry Nassar

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A jury on Friday convicted a former Michigan State University gymnastics coach of lying to police when she denied that two teen athletes told her of sexual abuse by sports doctor Larry Nassar in 1997, nearly 20 years before he was charged.

Kathie Klages, 65, was found guilty of a felony and a misdemeanor in a Lansing courthouse where Nassar was sentenced more than two years ago. Klages faces up to four years in prison. She is the second person other than Nassar to be found guilty of charges related to his serial molestation of young women and girls under the guise of medical treatment.

Klages resigned in 2017 after she was suspended for defending the since-imprisoned Nassar. Prosecutors said she lied in 2018 when she told investigators that the two young athletes, who were in a campus gymnastics program but not MSU gymnasts, had not reported Nassar’s sexual misconduct to her.

Klages testified earlier Friday that she did not remember being told about abuse. She said she was “shocked” when she first learned in 2017 that one of the teens said she had previously told Klages about Nassar, whom she considered a “very good friend, professionally.”

“I have no recollection of the conversation,” Klages said. Later, under cross-examination, she said: “I would think that I would remember something like that. I would think I would.”

In closing statements, the prosecution said Klages lied in 2018 when she told investigators that the two young athletes, who were in a campus gymnastics program but not Michigan State gymnasts, had not reported Nassar’s sexual misconduct to her.

“It’s not believable that the defendant forgot about being told … what happened to them,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Rolstin. “Kathie Klages should not be rewarded for her lies that she told you today, and she should not be rewarded for lies she told during the MSU investigation trying to get to the bottom of what happened with Larry Nassar.”

Larissa Boyce testified that when she was 16 and training with the Spartan youth gymnastics team in 1997, she told Klages about Nassar — long before the scandal emerged in 2016. But she said she backed off and even apologized after Klages warned her that any complaints about Nassar could cause trouble.

Another witness, who asked that her name not be used in news coverage, was 14 when she said she also reported Nassar to Klages. She said the coach started asking other gymnasts if Nassar had done anything to make them uncomfortable.

Defense attorney Mary Chartier urged jurors to not “rely on the word of two teenage girls from 23 years ago” and noted that Klages sent her three children and a granddaughter to be treated by Nassar for years after she was allegedly told of his abuse. She also cited inconsistencies in their stories and said authorities never found anyone who was at the meeting or had heard of it, despite allegations that Klages brought in college gymnasts to talk to the accusers.

“They have absolutely no evidence that even if these comments were made, she remembers them all these years later,” Chartier said.

Nassar worked at Michigan State and USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. He is serving what are effectively life sentences for child porn possession and sexually assaulting young women and girls. More than 300 victims have said he molested them during treatment for back problems and other injuries.

In August, Nassar’s former supervisor at Michigan State, ex-College of Osteopathic Medicine Dean William Strampel, was sentenced to jail for crimes including neglecting a duty to enforce protocols on Nassar after a patient complained about sexual contact in 2014.

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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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