Lawsuit: MSU coach defended Nassar’s treatment

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Michigan State University’s former head gymnastics coach told the mother of a gymnast being seen for back pain that the vaginal penetration to her daughter by an MSU doctor was a proven medical treatment, according to a civil lawsuit and the daughter’s attorney.

The daughter is the third alleged victim to come forward accusing former MSU coach Kathie Klages of being aware of the alleged sexual abuse by Dr. Larry Nassar, a former MSU and USA Gymastics doctor. He is currently in jail for federal and state charges that include possession of child pornography, along with assault of a girl at his home and destruction of evidence.

The allegations were filed in a Jan. 27 court document that did not identify Klages, 62, by name but the daughter’s attorney, John Fraser, confirmed Wednesday that it was Klages who made the statement.

Klages has not been charged but retired from her position Tuesday, a day after the university suspended her with pay.

Nassar is under investigation for allegedly sexually assaulting dozens of young women over a 22-year period, with at least 37 women who have filed legal complaints against him, including two more cases filed Wednesday.

Two other complainants in the suits allege Klages did nothing in the late 1990s when they told her about Nassar, who used his fingers to penetrate them in what he called a treatment for ailments, including back, hip and knee pain.

The latest allegation against Klages, who resigned after 27 seasons, stems from a meeting with the MSU gymnastics team on Sept. 12 to make the athletes aware of allegations against Nassar that were published in a newspaper.

One of the gymnasts in the meeting was a minor when she had been under the care of Nassar from 2008 to 2016 after a back injury, according to the Jan. 27 court filing.

During her treatments, Nassar sexually abused her when she met with him three times a week in a back room at Twistars, a gymnastics facility in Lansing, as well as in the basement of Nassar’s home and at his MSU office, according to the filing. She also was under his care from December 2015 to September when she became a student at MSU.

After the September meeting with the team, the mother of the alleged victim called Klages and asked her what was going on, according to Fraser, an Okemos-based attorney.

“Klages continued to defend (Nassar) ,” Fraser said. “And she made this ridiculous statement that the child porn could have been planted on his computer to frame him.”

Klages’ attorney, Shirlee Bobryk, could not be reached for comment.

Fraser also pointed to a letter from Athletic Director Mark Hollis to Klages on Tuesday that noted Klages was protecting Nassar in September.

“... At the conclusion of the meeting you shared with the team your highly emotional sense of shock regarding the allegations against Dr. Nassar,” Hollis wrote. “... While I acknowledge you provided student-athletes with information about reporting to the Office of Institutional Equity, your passionate defense of Dr. Nassar created an emotionally charged environment for the team.”