Michigan State University

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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 president charged with lying to police about Larry Nassar

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Ex-Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation of the handling of serial sexual abuser Larry Nassar — the third current or former campus official other than Nassar to face criminal charges in the scandal.

Simon, who stepped down under pressure in January, spoke with state police investigators on May 1. She is accused of making two false and misleading statements — that she was unaware of the nature of a sexual misconduct complaint that sparked the school’s 2014 Title IX probe of Nassar, and that she only knew a sports medicine doctor, not Nassar himself, was under investigation at that time.

If convicted of two felony and two misdemeanor counts of lying to a peace officer, the 71-year-old Simon faces up to four years in prison. The Mason resident is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday in Eaton County near Lansing.

One of her attorneys, Lee Silver, called the charges “completely baseless” and said he had not seen a “shred of evidence” to support them.

“In my opinion, the real crime here is that these charges are even being brought,” he said. “We are confident that when we have our day in court, Dr. Simon will be exonerated and these charges will be proven to have no merit.”

University spokeswoman Emily Guerrant said Simon — who remains on faculty despite resigning as president — is taking an immediate leave of absence without pay “to focus on her legal situation.”

Simon is the fifth person to be criminally charged in the wake of Nassar’s convictions for molesting young female athletes under the guise of treatment. Numerous other people have lost their jobs or have been sued.

In August, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette charged former MSU gymnastics head coach Kathie Klages with lying to an investigator when she denied that witnesses told her years ago about being sexually assaulted by Nassar. In March, the ex-dean of the osteopathic medicine school, William Strampel, was charged with neglecting his duty to enforce examining-room restrictions imposed on Nassar after the 2014 Title IX investigation.

That probe, initiated by a patient, resulted in the school clearing Nassar.

In Texas, former USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny was charged last month with tampering with evidence while a former sports medicine trainer, Debra Van Horn, was charged in June with “acting as a party” with Nassar in the sexual assault of a child.

Hundreds of girls and women have said Nassar molested them when he was a physician, including while he worked at Michigan State and Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains U.S. Olympians. Nassar, 55, last year pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting nine victims and possessing child pornography, and his sentences equate to life in prison.

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Michigan State reaches $500 million settlement with Nassar survivors

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State University on Wednesday announced a $500 million settlement with more than 300 women and girls who said they were assaulted by sports doctor Larry Nassar in the worst sex-abuse case in sports history.

The deal surpasses the more than $109 million that Penn State University paid to settle claims by at least 35 people that assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky had sexually abused boys, though the Nassar settlement involves far more victims.

Michigan State and lawyers for 332 victims announced the deal after negotiating privately with the help of a mediator. Under the agreement, $425 million would be paid to current claimants and $75 million would be set aside for any future claims.

The statement doesn’t indicate how much money each victim would receive. It also doesn’t say how Michigan State will pay the bill.

Rachael Denhollander, who in 2016 was the first woman to publicly identify herself as a victim, said the agreement “reflects the incredible damage which took place on MSU’s campus.” But she said she still has not seen any “meaningful reform” at the university.

Michigan State was accused of ignoring or dismissing complaints about Nassar, some as far back as the 1990s. The school, however, has insisted that no one covered up assaults.

“We are truly sorry to all the survivors and their families for what they have been through, and we admire the courage it has taken to tell their stories,” said Brian Breslin, chairman of Michigan State’s governing board. “We recognize the need for change on our campus and in our community around sexual assault awareness and prevention.”

Nassar pleaded guilty to molesting women and girls under the guise that it was treatment. He was also found to have child pornography and is serving prison sentences that will likely keep him locked up for life.

He treated campus athletes and scores of young gymnasts at his Michigan State office. He had an international reputation while working at the same time for USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.

Olympic gold medalists Simone BilesJordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney say they were among Nassar’s victims.

“This historic settlement came about through the bravery of more than 300 women and girls who had the courage to stand up and refuse to be silenced,” said lead attorney John Manly.

The deal applies only to Michigan State. Lawsuits still are pending against Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and an elite gymnastics club in the Lansing-area where assaults occurred.

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