The State Court of Appeals on Tuesday, December 21 overturned the previous criminal conviction of former Michigan State University women’s gymnastics coach Kathy Klages, who was convicted of lying to the FBI during his investigation into the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal.
John Manly, an attorney representing many of Nassar’s more than 300 victims, called the ruling “wrong” and “slap” the victims.
The three-judge Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision ruled that the lies Klages was convicted of telling did not constitute “material facts” in the investigation, since the Nassar investigation was already underway. finished. He pleaded guilty in 2017 and was sentenced in early 2018.
Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office was conducting its own ongoing investigation to determine whether there had been an institutional cover-up for Nassar from MSU.
In February 2020, a 12-person jury found Klages guilty of two counts of lying to a peace officer, each carrying a sentence of up to four years in prison. Ingham County Circuit Judge Joyce Draganchuk sentenced Klages to 90 days in jail on August 4.
Klages appealed the jury’s conviction and won. Nessel’s office has not commented on the decision or revealed whether he plans to appeal to the state’s Supreme Court.
âKlages was the head coach of the women’s gymnastics team for much of Nassar’s 30-year reign of terror at MSU,â said Manly, an attorney at law firm Manly, Stewart, Finaldi d ‘Irvine, Calif. âShe was one of his closest friends and one of his most prolific facilitators. She ignored numerous complaints of sexual assault from the athletes she was required to protect.
“Klages continued to defend Nassar after his arrest, even asking his victims to send him a sympathy card.” Nassar, a former sports doctor at MSU has worked with a number of athletes, at MSU and at the Olympics. He was convicted of assaulting more than 150 girls and young women under the guise of medical treatment over a period of decades.
The case against Klages centered on two gymnasts who told investigators they reported sexual assault to Klages in the late 1990s.
Larissa Boyce, who was 16 at the time, and another victim, who was 14 at the time, both said they told Klages that Nassar inserted his fingers into their vagina, groped them and otherwise touched them inappropriately under the guise of medical treatment in 1997.
Klages told investigators she doesn’t remember this conversation.
Boyce doesn’t believe it.
“I wish she’d just said, I’m sorry,” Boyce told the Ingham County courthouse after Klages’ conviction. “It would have been a long road.”
Manly, who represents the victims of Nassar, asks Nessel’s office to appeal.
“The statement (of the Court of Appeal) that” The investigation into who knew what and when about Larry Nassar was intended to be an investigation of potential criminal behavior, not a traveling investigation designed to expose the errors of MSU and further embarrass the institution, “seems to focus on protecting MSU’s reputation at the expense of Nassar victims,” ââthe lawyer said. “Make no mistake, this decision gives the green light to d ‘ other factors favoring sexual assault He tells them that if you protect an abuser and lie to the police about it, you will not be held criminally responsible.
The Court of Appeal’s decision returns the case to Ingham County Circuit Court for a dismissal of the charges.
Justices Elizabeth L. Gleicher, who wrote the majority opinion, and Cynthia Stephens, ruled in favor of overturning the conviction. Dissenting Court of Appeal Judge Stephen Borrello called the opinion âwrongâ.
“The error, I believe, lies in the majority’s assertion that there was no evidence that the accused’s” false statement regarding the 1997 conversations was material to the 2018 criminal investigation. “said his dissenting opinion.” In reaching this conclusion, the majority infer that a false statement is only material if it has actually had an impact on the prosecution’s indictment decision. I don’t think that the language of (the law) demands such a precise level of specificity as it emphasizes the prohibition of false and misleading statements during the investigation phase.
âI also disagree with the insinuation of the majority that this investigation could not have been truly a criminal investigation simply because it also involved allegations of institutional failures within Michigan State University. Because I believe there was constitutionally sufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict convicting the accused in this case, I disagree.
Nessel concluded his office’s investigation of a possible cover-up by MSU administrators and others in March, citing a reluctance by MSU to release investigative documents as leading the investigation to a dead end.
âWe are incredibly disappointed that our work ends this way, especially for the survivors,â Nessel said.
The criminal case against former Michigan State University president Lou Ann K. Simon, also accused of lying during the Nassar sexual abuse investigation, was closed in May 2020 after an Eaton County judge determined the attorney general’s office lacked evidence to bring the case to justice.
Former Nassar boss William Strampel, former dean of MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine, was sentenced to one year in Ingham County Jail for misconduct by a public official and willful neglect of his duties in August 2019 He also gave up his medical license. He appealed the conviction to the state Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case.
John Geddert, 63, a former Olympic gymnastics trainer and partner of Nassar, was found dead in apparent suicide hours after being charged with 24 felonies, including trafficking, in February.
Nassar remains in jail and is serving several sentences of over 100 years.
MSU agreed to pay victims $ 500 million as part of a settlement agreement.
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