Former Gymnastics Coach Convicted of Lying About Larry Nassar Has Conviction Overturned

A Michigan court overturned the conviction of a former Michigan State University gymnastics coach found guilty of lying to law enforcement about her knowledge of Larry Nassar's sexual abuse. Judges from the Michigan Court of Appeals did not rule that Kathie Klages had in fact told the truth to investigators, but that her interviews were "inconsequential" to the investigation into how the university dealt with Nassar's abuse.

Nassar, a former Olympic and MSU sports doctor, was accused by hundreds of women and girls of using his position to sexually abuse them for decades. He was sentenced in 2018 to 40 to 175 years in prison.

Klages was found guilty of felony and misdemeanor charges of lying to police in February 2020 and given a 90-day jail sentence in August 2020. Two women testified during her trial that they informed Klages about the abuse in 1997, but Klages has maintained that she cannot recall having conversations with either of them.

The judges determined that the police interviews in which Klages denied knowing about the abuse took place after Nassar had already been sentenced. They also noted that prosecutors in her case never alleged that anyone had gotten away with an offense because of her statements.

"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.

Coach's Conviction Overturned
A Michigan appeals court on December 21 overturned former Michigan State University gymnastics coach Kathie Klages' conviction of lying to police in connection with the investigation into the sexual abuse of young girls by former sports doctor Larry Nassar. Here, Klages testifies in Lansing, Michigan, on February 14, 2020. Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal via AP

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.

"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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Larry Nassar
A Michigan court overturned the conviction of a former Michigan State University gymnastics coach found guilty of lying to law enforcement about her knowledge of Larry Nassar's sexual abuse. Nassar appears in court in Lansing, Michigan on November 22, 2017, where he pleaded guilty to multiple charges of sexual assault. Paul Sancya/AP Photo