LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Court of Appeals on Tuesday overturned a former Michigan State University gymnastics coach’s conviction for lying to investigators about her knowledge of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.
Kathie Klages was sentenced to 90 days in jail in August 2020 on felony and misdemeanor counts of lying to police about her knowledge of the former Olympic and MSU doctor’s sexual abuse.
Nassar was sentenced in 2018 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
During Klages’ case, two women testified that in 1997 they told Klages that Nassar had sexually abused them, years before he was publicly accused in 2016.
Larissa Boyce testified that as a 16-year-old she gathered up the courage to tell Klages what had happened just to have Klages hold up a piece of paper in front of her and say if she filed a report, there would be serious consequences.
Klages maintained her innocence throughout, saying she could not remember a conversation with either of the girls in 1997.
The appeals court judges didn’t determine that Klages had told the truth to investigators, but rather that her interviews were not “material” to the attorney general’s investigation into the university’s handling of Nassar’s abuse.
The judges reasoned that the police interviews came after Nassar was sentenced and that the prosecution in Klages’ case never presented evidence that anyone got away with a crime due to her comments in 2018.
“Viewing the evidence and inferences in the light most favorable to the prosecution, Klages’s lie regarding her memory of the 1997 conversations did not result in a different course of investigation, lead the investigators astray, or taint the decision made by the decisionmaker. Thus, it was inconsequential, rather than material,” the judges wrote in their opinion Tuesday.
“We are thrilled with the result,” Klages’ attorney, Mary Chartier, said in a statement. “It has been a long battle, but Mrs. Klages has finally been vindicated.”
Klages was the second person to be convicted of charges in relation to Nassar. Michigan State Ex-College of Osteopathic Medicine Dean William Strampel, who was Nassar’s boss, was sentenced to jail in 2019 for convictions concerning neglect of duty after not enforcing safety protocols on Nassar after a patient said Nassar assaulted her in 2014.