Former Michigan State women’s gymnastics coach Kathie Klages was charged with two counts of lying to a peace officer Thursday in the investigation into how the university handled Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse allegations, ESPN reported.
Of the two counts, one is a felony and the other a misdemeanor. Under Michigan law, it is reportedly considered a felony to lie to investigators about major crimes such as first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The misdemeanor charge is for lying about a less serious crime. If found guilty, Klages faces up to four years in prison on the felony and up to two years in prison on the misdemeanor.
“While investigating how Larry Nassar was able to get away with sexually assaulting hundreds of individuals on and off Michigan State’s campus, Klages denied to Michigan State Police detectives having been told prior to 2016 of Nassar’s sexual misconduct,” the Michigan State Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “Witnesses have said that they reported Nassar’s sexual abuse to Klages dating back more than 20 years.”
Klages, who was reportedly a longtime friend of Nassar, served as coach of the Michigan State gymnastics team for 27 years before retiring in February 2017. On the day before her retirement, she was suspended after holding a meeting with her gymnasts shortly after Nassar was arrested on criminal sexual conduct charges in the fall of 2016. Several former Michigan State gymnasts said Klages asked the team to sign a sympathy card for Nassar after he was arrested, and also discouraged them from answering any questions about his time as the team’s doctor.
Nassar pleaded guilty last year to state charges of criminal sexual conduct and federal charges of child pornography. He was sentenced to up to 175 years in state prison.