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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 cleared by NCAA in Nassar, basketball, football review

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Michigan State said it was cleared of potential violations from an NCAA review stemming from Larry Nassar‘s sexual abuse crimes and reported allegations of sexual assault and violence against women involving Michigan State football and basketball players.

“it does not appear there is a need for further inquiry,” Jonathan F. Duncan, Vice President of Enforcement for the NCAA, wrote in a letter to Michigan State Athletic Director Bill Beekman, according to the university. “[The NCAA review] has not substantiated violations of NCAA legislation.”

Beekman said MSU welcomed the “closure” regarding the NCAA inquiry.

“In regards to the crimes committed on our campus by Larry Nassar, the NCAA findings do not change a thing,” he said in a statement. “NCAA member organizations have a specific set of rules to which we hold each other accountable. And while we agree with the NCAA that we did not commit a violation, that does not diminish our commitment to ensure the health, safety and wellness of our student athletes. That pledge permeates everything we do as part of a larger university commitment to making MSU a safer campus.

“As it relates to the handling of student-athlete conduct issues, at Michigan State we are committed to following all appropriate policies and procedures. Today’s findings provide external validation of [football and basketball coaches] Mark Dantonio and Tom Izzo and the way they administer their programs. Mark and Tom represent the athletic department and Michigan State University with integrity.”

In May, Michigan State announced a $500 million settlement with more than 300 women and girls who said they were assaulted by Nassar in the worst sex-abuse case in sports history.

The deal surpassed 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.

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.

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.

Prominent Michigan State officials, including its athletic director and president in a span of two days, resigned or retired amid the Nassar scandal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

MORE: Ex-MSU coach charged with lying amid Nassar probe

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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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