Woman: MSU coach was told about doctor’s abuse

Detroit News staff and wire reports

Grand Rapids — A woman said Michigan State University’s women’s gymnastics coach downplayed her concerns about treatments by a sports doctor in the late 1990s and warned that a formal complaint about sexual abuse could have major consequences.

The allegations are listed in a court document filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in western Michigan. The woman, listed only as Plaintiff Jane BMSU Doe, wants to join more than 20 females who are suing Dr. Larry Nassar. They say they were assaulted under the guise of treatment.

The woman said Kathie Klages was her coach when she was a teen in a Michigan State youth program. She said Klages told her to see Nassar about back pain.

From early 1997 until late 1999, when Nassar treated the woman, he “sexually assaulted, battered, abused, and molested” her, according to the filing.

The filing claims the treatments often began with Nassar asking the woman to disrobe from the waist down, and at least once he asked about her sex life.

The woman alleges he assaulted her by “rubbing and digitally penetrating her ... without gloves on,” the document read. At times, Nassar would allegedly “rub very hard while he made grunting noises. ... Plaintiff often perceived that Nassar was aroused during these ‘treatments.’ ”

The woman claims when she went to Klages at age 16 or 17 to share concerns, the coach told her she couldn’t imagine him doing anything questionable.

“Klages told Plaintiff that she (Plaintiff) must be ‘misunderstanding’ or ‘reading into’ what Nassar was doing,” the complaint stated. “Klages explained that she (Klages) could file something, but that it would have serious consequences for Plaintiff and for Nassar.”

Later that same day the woman had an appointment with Nassar, who indicated Klages had called to inform him about the conversation. He said the woman “was not understanding a proper medical treatment” then “proceeded to commit another sexual assault,” the court document claims.

Klages did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment Tuesday.

Nassar has denied similar allegations by others. Separately, he’s charged with assaulting a girl at his Lansing-area home and possessing child pornography. He’s jailed without bond.

MSU spokesman Jason Cody said the university takes “the allegations raised by the recent legal motions very seriously.”

“MSU Police and the state Attorney General’s Office are investigating all allegations thoroughly,” Cody said. “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. The university will not tolerate any interference with the investigation.

“From the beginning of the investigation into Larry Nassar in August, MSU leadership has encouraged anyone who has a complaint against Nassar or has any information about the criminal allegations to come forward to MSU Police.”

The woman’s claims are the latest in a larger lawsuit filed earlier this month on behalf of 18 women and girls who claim they were abused by Nassar over 20 years. They ranged in age from 9 to 29 at the time.

Four more females were added to the lawsuit last week.

Nassar was formerly associated with USA Gymnastics and had a clinic at Michigan State University.

MSU reassigned Nassar from clinical and patient duties as of Aug. 30, a day after a complaint from one of the gymnasts was made to authorities. He was fired Sept. 20, the school has said.

Nassar faces other lawsuits over alleged assaults, but the case in west Michigan is the largest. Through lawyers, he has denied the allegations.

Last month, he was arrested in Holt on federal child pornography charges. An FBI agent said at least 37,000 images and videos were discovered.

Nassar had been under scrutiny since September when two gymnasts, including a member of the 2000 U.S. women’s Olympic team, said they were sexually abused by him when they were teens. He has denied it.

In November, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office charged Nassar with sexually assaulting a girl at his home in Ingham County between 1998 and 2005. The allegations aren’t related to his time as a gymnastics doctor. He has pleaded not guilty.