Chicago: The former women’s gymnastics coach at Michigan State University turned herself in to authorities Thursday, to face charges that she lied to police investigating a massive sex abuse scandal in the sport.
Former gymnasts have accused Kathy Klages of turning a blind eye to the assaults perpetrated by Larry Nassar, the ex-doctor who abused hundreds of athletes in the guise of medical treatment, including Olympic champions such as Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and Madison Kocian. Nassar admitted his crimes, plead guilty, and is serving three prison sentences that will keep him behind bars the rest of his life.
State prosecutors have turned their attention to those who may have been alerted to the abuse, but failed to stop Nassar. Klages retired from MSU last year. She was the women’s gymnastics coach and worked with Nassar, who treated athletes at the university and at USA Gymnastics events and trainings. Some athletes have claimed Klages was told about Nassar’s abuse and did not believe accusers. She is charged with two counts of lying to investigators probing how Nassar managed to evade detection.
“Witnesses have said that they reported Nassar’s sexual abuse to Klages dating back more than 20 years,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement. “Klages denied to law enforcement officers about having been told prior to 2016 of Nassar’s sexual misconduct.” Klages was arraigned on one felony and one misdemeanor charge. Together, they carry a maximum sentence of six years. She was freed on $5,000 bond and is expected back in court next week. She did not enter a plea.
Klages’s attorney dismissed the charges as politically motivated, according to The Detroit News. “There is irrefutable evidence that will undercut these claims that have been made,” her attorney Takura Nyamfukudza said, according to the newspaper. “These charges are based on someone pointing the finger, that’s all it takes, a very low standard of proof,” he said. Nassar’s former boss at the university’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, William Strampel, is also facing various charges, including willful neglect of duty for failing to properly supervise Nassar.