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Ex-coach's Nassar-related conviction will not be reinstated

closeup of Kathie Klages.
Cheyna Roth
Michigan Radio
Kathie Klages (file photo)

The Michigan Supreme Court turned down an appeal Wednesday and won't reinstate the conviction of a retired Michigan State University gymnastics coach who was accused of lying to investigators about campus sports doctor Larry Nassar.

The state attorney general's office had widened its investigation beyond Nassar, who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing athletes, mostly female gymnasts. But prosecutors now have lost two high-profile cases.

Kathie Klages was sentenced to 90 days in jail in 2020 on charges of lying to police. But the Michigan Court of Appeals in December threw out her conviction and said her statements in a 2018 interview were not crucial.

Authorities said they were investigating how the university years earlier had responded to allegations about Nassar.

The state Supreme Court, in a one-sentence order, said it was not persuaded to intervene in the Klages case.

Two women testified at her trial that in 1997, while attending a youth camp, they told Klages that Nassar had sexually abused them, long before he was publicly accused by others in 2016.

Klages insisted she could not remember a conversation with either girl two decades later. She was the Michigan State women’s gymnastics coach for 27 years before suddenly retiring in 2017.

Nassar was a team doctor for Michigan State and Olympic women gymnasts. He was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison after hundreds of women and girls accused him of decades of molestation under the guise of medical treatment.

Separately, Lou Anna Simon, a former Michigan State president, was charged with lying to investigators about her knowledge of complaints against Nassar. But an Eaton County judge dismissed the case, saying there was insufficient evidence.

The appeals court agreed in December.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement on Wednesday about the Klages decision, “The Court’s decision leaves in place dangerous precedent for prosecutions. In my view, the jury rightly convicted Klages of making false statements that were material to the investigation conducted by my department’s special agents. Absent review by the Michigan Supreme Court, the damaging ruling from the Court of Appeals has the potential to affect all future police investigations.”

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