Larry Nassar

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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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MORE: Nassar survivors offered $215M by USA Gymnastics

Ex-Olympic medical chief cites reports of abuse for firing

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DENVER (AP) — A former sports medicine executive at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the federation, contending he was fired for urging managers to react more strongly to his concerns about abuse and other athlete-safety issues.

Bill Moreau, the former vice president of sports medicine, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Denver. He was fired in May 2019 after working for the USOPC for 10 years.

“This case is not only about the way the USOC treated me, it is also about protecting the athletes that the USOC has for far too long knowingly put in harm’s way,” Moreau said of the federation that recently changed its name from “USOC.”

The USOPC, which has often provided minimal context or comment in regard to litigation, put out a stronger statement regarding this lawsuit.

“We regret that Dr. Moreau and his attorney have misrepresented the causes of his separation from the USOPC,” said spokeswoman Luella Chavez D’Angelo. “We will honor their decision to see this matter through in the courts, and we won’t comment on the specifics as that goes forward.”

According to a news release detailing the lawsuit, Moreau “urged the USOC to end its practice of creating incomplete medical records for patients, thereby putting athlete-patients in danger. He pushed the USOC sports performance staff to stop wrongly accessing patients’ medical files, in violation of patients’ privacy rights.”

The lawsuit spells out a handful of cases Moreau said he brought to his supervisors’ attention, all of which he claims were handled inappropriately.

According to the lawsuit, those instances included:

—A case in which a 15-year-old Paralympic athlete was thinking about suicide after having sex with a 20-year-old athlete while they were in Iowa competing at the Drake Relays. Moreau said he informed his bosses about the statutory rape but they didn’t report it until three days after the 24-hour reporting period had ended.

—Moreau learned Olympic silver medalist Kelly Catlin had attempted suicide and stopped going to psychiatric care. He urged USOPC high-performance chief Rick Adams that the federation needed to provide Catlin help beyond what the group’s internal professionals were providing. Catlin took her life the day after Moreau brought his concerns to Adams a second time.

Since the Larry Nassar scandal, in which more than 350 women said he abused them, the USOPC has been under extensive scrutiny from Congress, which passed a law in 2018 that strengthened reporting requirements in cases of sexual abuse. Congress has also introduced a bill that would greatly increase its oversight of the federation. The Justice Department is looking into the USOPC’s handling of sex-abuse allegations over a span of decades, and two internally commissioned investigations have detailed the federation’s failures in protecting athletes.

Moreau, who holds a chiropractic degree, was fired in May 2019. According to the lawsuit, the USOPC told him he was fired because he didn’t have a doctor of medicine degree. His replacement was another chiropractor.

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Larry Nassar survivors offered $215 million by USA Gymnastics

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USA Gymnastics has filed a bankruptcy plan that includes an offer of $215 million for sexual abuse survivors to settle their claims against the embattled organization.

The $215 million total is the amount USA Gymnastics’ insurance carriers are willing to provide the sport’s national governing body to end years of legal battles with athletes who were abused by former national team doctor Larry Nassar. The two sides have been in mediation since USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy in December 2018.

Nassar is serving decades in prison for sexual assault and possession of child pornography in Michigan. Hundreds of athletes have come forward over the last three years saying Nassar abused them under the guise of treatment, including reigning Olympic champion Simone Biles and six-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman.

Bankruptcy law requires businesses to provide an exit plan within 18 months, and the exit plan is another step in a still lengthy process. USA Gymnastics President Li Li Leung told The Associated Press on Thursday that the organization wants to “work toward a true consensual settlement” with survivors.

Leung described the $215 million as the amount the insurance carriers have agreed to provide at this point.

“Our hope is that discussions will continue and more money will be (available),” said Leung, who took over in March 2019, several months after Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy protection. “It’s not capped at $215 (million).”

There is a two-step voting process for claimants to determine whether to accept the offer. At least half the claimants who vote have to approve the agreement, and the majority needs to represent at least two-thirds of the monetary value of the settlement. The claimants could also vote down the measure and continue to pursue their lawsuits to collect any judgments from insurance policies available to USA Gymnastics or they could not vote on it at all and discuss how to go forward.

The proposed settlement does not include any money from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, which has been named as a co-defendant in some of the lawsuits.

John Manly, an attorney representing 200 Nassar survivors, chastised both USA Gymnastics and the USOPC for “blatant disregard” of the victims.

“This proposed plan does not include the critical structural changes necessary to ensure the safety of girls moving forward, nor does it appropriately address the myriad physical and emotional challenges the victims face as a result of these crimes,” Manly said in a statement. “Most disturbingly, this proposed plan attempts to absolve USOPC of any responsibility for these crimes which were committed under its watch. This plan from USAG is not just unworkable, it is unconscionable.”

Michigan State University, where Nassar worked for decades, agreed in May 2018 to pay $500 million to more than 300 women and girls who said they were assaulted by Nassar.

At the time it filed for bankruptcy, USA Gymnastics was facing 100 lawsuits representing more than 350 athletes in various courts across the country who blame the group for failing to supervise Nassar. If claimants agree to accept the offer, the $215 million will be placed into a trust, with the money then distributed by a trustee. A judge would decide how the $215 million is allocated.

The plan put forth by the organization also requires it to continue to strengthen its athlete safety policies. USA Gymnastics revamped its Safe Sport policy last summer and hired its first vice president of athlete health and wellness last December.

The organization hopes to have a bankruptcy exit plan of some kind approved ahead of the Toyko Olympics, which begin in July.

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