Former Michigan State women’s gymnastics coach Kathie Klages, a longtime supporter of disgraced former team doctor Larry Nassar, was found guilty on two counts of lying to police on Friday, according to ESPN.
Klages was found guilty of lying to police in 2018 when she told them she had no memory of former gymnasts complaining about Nassar’s abuse at the school, per the report. She maintained that position when she testified on Friday, saying she trusted Nassar up until his 2016 arrest and even allowed her own children and family to see him as patients.
Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State team doctor, was effectively handed a life sentence in 2018 after he sexually assaulted more than 150 women and girls over several decades. Michigan State has since paid out $500 million to more than 300 survivors, and USA Gymnastics offered a $215 million settlement for survivors last month.
Larissa Boyce and another former teammate who chose to remain anonymous testified this week that they told Klages in 1997 that Nassar abused them and that she did nothing about it.
“Never for the past 23 years did I think I would hear those words,” Boyce said, via ESPN. “I feel like a weight has been lifted off me. I feel vindicated. Finally, justice.”
Boyce was 16 when she first saw Nassar in 2017 for a back injury. The second gymnast was just 14. Boyce said she was effectively silenced by Klages, too, who told her there would be serious consequences if she wanted to move forward with her accusations.
“[Klages] said ‘Larissa’s saying this about Dr. Nassar, that he’s touching her in this way. Is that happening to you also?’ And I remember being scared,” the second gymnast told ESPN in 2017. “But I nodded, ‘Yes, this is happening to me as well …’
“I thought I was gonna have someone to help me and it wasn’t that sense at all of getting help. It was more of a sense of ‘Who have you told so far?’ and ‘Let’s not talk about this anymore.’”
Others have accused Klages of ignoring their complaints, too. One woman, per ESPN, complained about Nassar to Klages in 2011 after her 8-year-old daughter said her visit with Nassar at a camp was “uncomfortable, and that his treatment was weird and hurt.”
Klages, however, continued to defend Nassar right up until his arrest and even used him as a recruiting tool. It wasn’t until after his arrest and investigators found thousands of images of child pornography on his computer that she changed her stance on him, per ESPN.
“This man was a caring and phenomenal doctor, I thought,” Klages said, via ESPN. “So, I defended this person … [The child pornography] was the point at which I [went] ‘Whoa, there’s something about this man I know nothing about.’ It started to make me very weary, concerned.”
Klages resigned in 2017 after 27 years at the university. She is facing up to four years in prison, and is due in court next for sentencing in April.
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