Tuesday, May 18, 2021

MSU women's gymnastics coach named in motion filed against Nassar

January 31, 2017
Head coach Kathie Klages reacts during the  MSU womens gymnastic's meet against Illinois on Feb. 19, 2016 at Jenison Field House.
Head coach Kathie Klages reacts during the MSU womens gymnastic's meet against Illinois on Feb. 19, 2016 at Jenison Field House. —
Photo by Sundeep Dhanjal | and Sundeep Dhanjal The State News

A new motion filed in Grand Rapids on Tuesday alleges that MSU women’s gymnastics head coach Kathie Klages was aware of allegations of sexual abuse against former MSU employee Larry Nassar as early as 1997.

Nassar is accused of sexually abusing patients in his role as a doctor, including MSU student-athletes and members of the U.S. Women's Olympic Gymnastics Team.

The motion aims to add a plaintiff, identified as “Jane BMSU Doe,” to Denhollander et al v. Michigan State University et al, a lawsuit filed against Nassar. If all current motions are granted, the lawsuit will have 26 plaintiffs.

Jane BMSU Doe alleges that Nassar treated her for lower back pain with “intravaginal adjustments,” in which he touched and digitally penetrated patients’ genitals, and that these treatments occurred once a week to once every two weeks for more than two years.

A lawsuit filed in California disputes that this is an accepted medical practice, saying they “were done for Nassar’s own sexual gratification.”

The motion alleges that Jane BMSU Doe told Klages that she had concerns about her treatments with Nassar “sometime in late 1997 to mid 1998,” and Klages said that she could file a report, but the report “would have serious consequences” for both Jane BMSU Doe and for Nassar.

MSU policy at the time mandated Klages to report incidents of sexual assault in the university community, according to the motion.

After hearing Jane BMSU Doe’s concerns, Klages called Nassar to warn him about the conversation, according to the motion. When Jane BMSU Doe showed up to her appointment with Nassar later that day, he told her she didn’t understand the treatment and allegedly performed another “intravaginal adjustment.”

This motion, like the one filed Jan. 27, alleges that representatives from MSU told “potential victims” not to speak with the police or the media, and suggested “that athletes’ personal cellular phone would be checked for police or media contact.”

"If evidence is uncovered that an MSU employee sought to interfere with the criminal case or prevent individuals from coming forward, we will take appropriate action," MSU spokesperson Jason Cody said in an email statement. "The university will not tolerate any interference with the investigation."

Klages did not reply to a request for comment.

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