Jury convicts ex-MSU gymnastics coach of lying to police
Updated: Friday, February 14, 2020 at 5:22 p.m.:
A jury has convicted a former Michigan State University gymnastics coach of lying to police when she denied that two teen athletes told her of sexual abuse by sports doctor Larry Nassar in 1997, nearly 20 years before he was charged.
Kathie Klages was found guilty Friday of a felony and a misdemeanor in a Lansing courthouse where Nassar was sentenced more than two years ago. She faces up to four years in prison.
She's the second person other than Nassar to be found guilty of charges related to his serial molestation of young women and girls under the guise of medical treatment.
Updated: Thursday, February 13, 2020 at 5:56 p.m.:
The prosecution in the Kathie Klages trial rested their case today, so it was the defense team’s turn to call witnesses. They hope to create reasonable doubt that Klages, as MSU’s gymnastics coach, was told in 1997 by two Spartan Youth Gymnastics athletes that they were being sexually abused by Larry Nassar. She’s charged with lying to police about such a meeting.
Rick Atkinson was MSU’s men’s gymnastics coach and Klages’s partner in running the youth program at the time. Defense attorney Takura Nyamfukudza asked if either typically met young gymnasts in their Jenison Field House offices.
Atkinson responded "Highly unlikely, no, no." and that it would "surprise him" but he didn't know if the same would be true for Klages.
Other witnesses indicated that it was unlikely for MSU varsity gymnasts to be brought into such meetings, as has been claimed, because they didn’t practice at the same time of day.
On Friday, there will be at least one more witness, and jury deliberations are likely to begin.
Updated: Tuesday, February 11, 5:56 p.m.
The trial against Kathie Klages has ended for a second day, with testimony from several prosecution witnesses. Klages is the former MSU gymnastics coach. She’s accused of lying to police about being told by two athletes in 1997 that they were sexually abused by Larry Nassar.
There was testimony today by both of the athletes in this case. Larissa Boyce says Klages held up a piece of paper and said there would be very serious consequences for Boyce and for Nassar if she filed it. Boyce testified that she felt “defeated.”
“I felt like I was trying to do the right thing, but then I also felt like I must have a dirty mind, I must be thinking of this wrong,” Boyce said.
The second athlete’s name is being withheld. Her story corroborates that of Boyce. Defense questioning challenged how their memories might have been influenced by conversations years later, and how it differs from statements they’ve made in recent years.
David Dwyre, the chief of investigations for the Attorney General’s office, was questioned about his interview with Klages over the allegations. Dwyre was asked by the prosecution why he didn’t believe Klages when she said she didn’t remember being told about Nassar’s abuse. He said she would have a greater motive to lie.
“She would have the fear of getting prosecuted, the fear of losing her identity and her career, the fear of losing respect, civil liability, and being prosecuted,” Dwyre said.
The trial will resume in Ingham County Circuit Court on Thursday.
Updated: Tuesday, February 11, 10:39 a.m.
A jury of seven women and seven men has been seated in the trial of former Michigan State University gymnastics coach Kathie Klages.
She's accused of lying to police about her knowledge of sexual assault allegations against Larry Nassar.
Monday started out with around 100 potential jurors in Ingham County Circuit Court in Lansing. In the afternoon following initial screening, about 70 of them filed into the courtroom of Judge Joyce Draganchuk for questioning by defense attorneys and prosecutors from the Attorney General's office. By the end of the day, a jury was selected and given instructions before being dismissed.
Testimony is now scheduled to begin on Tuesday morning, and both sides are planning to call a number of witnesses in a trial that could last a week or more.
Original post: Monday, February 10, 4:42 p.m.
Jury selection will begin Monday in the trial of Kathie Klages, a former Michigan State University gymnastics coach. Klages is charged with two counts of lying to the police during the investigation of Larry Nassar. One charge is a high misdemeanor and one is a felony.
Investigators say Klages denied having early knowledge of Nassar’s abuse. In a June 2018 interview with police, Klages denied that two gymnasts told her in the late 1990s that Nassar did and said things that made them uncomfortable.
Those two witnesses, one of whom is Larissa Boyce, testified at Nassar’s trial and said they had told Klages about Nassar’s actions.
Mary Chartier is one of the attorneys on Klages’ defense team. She said that despite the high-profile nature of the case, she’s not worried about jury selection.
“It's a high-profile case, in a way, but in every case, people come in with biases and partiality and it's everyone's job to find people who can set those aside,” Chartier said.
She says that in general, people want to be impartial and do their civic duty as described in the Constitution.
“I think the allegations, while they might have been in the media and may have made headlines at times, are just allegations. People understand the importance of a courtroom, when they come in, they really need to leave that outside,” Chartier said.
According to the Ingham County Circuit Court, jury selection will begin at 8:30 am. Potential jurors will fill out a pre-trial, written questionnaire, which will help determine eligibility. Opening statements from the prosecution and the defense could begin this afternoon if jury selection is quick, but Chartier thinks they will most likely begin Tuesday.