Kathie Klages allegedly lied to investigators about her knowledge of abuses.
Opening arguments began Tuesday in Michigan in the criminal case against a former Michigan State University gymnastics coach who allegedly spent years covering up Larry Nassar’s sex abuse when he worked at the school.
Kathie Klages told investigators in 2018 that she had no knowledge of any gymnastics member making any complaints against Nassar before 2016. However, several victims and witnesses reported that they told Klages about the abuse as far back as 1997, the Michigan attorney general’s office said.
Klages has been charged with two counts of lying to a peace officer and faces up to six years in prison if convicted on all counts, according to the AG’s office.
Prosecutors contend Klages had strong loyalty to Nassar and went out of her way to ensure the victims’ allegations were never investigated. Klages, who resigned as MSU’s gymnastics coach in 2017, has denied all of the allegations.
Nassar was sentenced in 2018 to 40 to 175 years in prison for multiple sex crimes that he committed while working as a doctor for MSU and the Olympic gymnastics teams since the late ’90s.
His years of abuse came into public light following a 2016 report in The Indianapolis Star on a lawsuit from two women alleging abuse. In the years that followed, several prominent Olympians, including Aly Raisman and Simone Biles, said Nassar abused them.
Several gymnasts and their parents have claimed Klages and MSU forced them to remain silent when they came to her about Nassar’s abuse. Lindsey Lemke, a gymnast who said she was abused by Nassar, told ABC News in 2018 that Klages gave her and other gymnasts instructions not to talk to anyone and tried to get them to sign a card that supported Nassar.
“I think she was trying to scare me so I wouldn’t speak up about it,” she said.
Several victims are expected to testify during the trial, including Larissa Boyce, who testified during Nassar’s sentencing that she told Klages about her abuse back in 1997. She was on the stand Tuesday and held back tears when she recounted going to Klages about her abuse, testifying that the coach pressured her to not speak up about her experience.
“It made me feel embarrassed. It made me feel like I was a liar. It made me feel dirty,” she said.