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MSU suspends head gymnastics coach

Michigan State University sign
Michigan State University

Michigan State University suspended women’s gymnastics Head Coach Kathie Klages on Monday, after 27 years on the job.

A university spokesperson said he couldn’t immediately comment about the reason for the suspension.

Last month, a woman claimed in court documents that she’d come to Coach Klages in the late 1990s with concerns about Dr. Larry Nassar, who was then a sports medicine doctor for MSU, USA Gymnastics, and Twistars, a youth gymnastics organization.

Some 30 alleged victims have come forward in the last few months to say Dr. Nassar sexually abused and assaulted them under the guise of medical treatment. Several have filed criminal complaints. Nassar is also currently facing child pornography charges. 

This woman, identified in court filings as “Jane BMSU Doe,” says she was training with MSU Youth Gymnastics in 1997 under Coach Klages. Klages encouraged her to see Dr. Nassar for her lower back pain, the lawsuit claims, and Doe was sexually abused by him.

“For over two years, under the guise of treatment, Nassar sexually assaulted, battered, abused, and molested Plaintiff by touching and rubbing her genital area and digitally penetrating her vagina without the use of gloves or lubricant and without Plaintiff’s consent or the consent of Plaintiff’s parents,” the court filings say.  

The court documents also claim Nassar was aroused during these treatments.

At the age of 16 or 17, she came to Coach Klages sometime in late 1997 to mid 1998 to express concern about Dr. Nassar’s treatments, according to the suit.  

“Klages explained that she had known Nassar for years and could not imagine him doing anything questionable. Klages told [Doe] that she must be ‘misunderstanding’ or ‘reading into’ what Nassar was doing. Klages explained that she could file something, but that it would have serious consequences for [Doe] and Nassar.”

Later that same day, Doe’s lawsuit says she had another appointment with Dr. Nassar, who told her Klages had called to tell him Doe “was not understanding a proper medical treatment.”

Nassar allegedly assaulted her at this appointment, too.

A voicemail left with Klages’ attorney, Shirlee Bobryk, was not immediately returned. 

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health and the COVID-19 pandemic.
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