Witnesses say they told former Michigan State University gymnastics coach Kathie Klages about former team doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuses several times over a period of 20 years. Prosecutors say she told Michigan State Police detectives that she didn’t know anything about it.
Now, she’s looking at possible prison time.
Klages was charged Thursday with two counts of lying to an officer as part of a state investigation that aims to hold MSU officials accountable for Nassar’s long history of abuse.
Prosecutors allege that Klages lied to investigators about knowing anything about Nassar’s abuse prior to 2016, the year the Indianapolis newspaper IndyStar publicized accusations from a pair of women. She faces one misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000, and one felony charge, punishable by up to four years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000.
Klages stepped down as MSU’s women’s gymnastics coach in February 2017 amid accusations that she had played a role in protecting Nassar. As his legal troubles grew, she reportedly asked her young athletes to sign a card for the doctor.
Back in January, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced the investigation led by special independent counsel Bill Forsyth, a veteran county prosecutor. At the time, Schuette, the Republican Party’s candidate for governor of Michigan this year, vowed to examine “every corner” of MSU to find out “who knew what and when, who took action, who failed to take action, what did or did not happen, and what should have happened.”
Since then, Schuette’s office says more than 500 people have been interviewed, including MSU faculty and staff and many survivors of Nassar’s abuse. The investigation is “still open and ongoing,” the office said in a statement on Thursday.
More than 265 people have accused Nassar of abusing them in his capacity as a physician. He served for decades as a team doctor at MSU and for USA Gymnastics, which saw the resignation of its entire board on the heels of the scandal.
Critics argue that MSU failed to do enough to address a terrible problem that its officials allegedly knew about for some time. A 2015 U.S. Education Department review of sexual harassment and assault complaints made to MSU uncovered a disturbing history of sluggish responses and failure to take action, prompting the school to name a designated Title IX coordinator to track such complaints. In light of the Nassar scandal, the Education Department announced that it would again investigate the school’s handling of such complaints. The NCAA said it too would look into the matter.
Although it has been months since Nassar’s sentencings, MSU is not back to normal yet. The school is still searching for a president to replace Lou Anna Simon, who resigned in January as accusations against the doctor reached a crescendo. The school installed former Michigan Gov. John Engler as Simon’s interim replacement, but more than 100 of Nassar’s accusers have urged Engler to step aside in light of emails suggesting he may have known about the abuse before it became public.
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