Kathie Klages, Michigan State’s women’s gymnastics coach of 27 years, stepped down from her post Tuesday, according to MLive, one day after she was suspended by the university for being involved a Jane Doe lawsuit filed against team physician Larry Nassar, Michigan State, and USA Gymnastics.
Nassar is being sued by over 30 women for sexual assault spanning from 1994 to 2016. In the complaint filed by Jane GMSU Doe, Jane HMSU Doe, Jane IMSU Doe, and Jane JMSU Doe, he is alleged of “nonconsensual vaginal and anal digital penetration or other nonconsensual sexual contact and without the use of gloves or lubricant.” Nassar is also at the center of a separate federal lawsuit filed in California, alleging he assaulted members of the USA Gymnastics program in his time working for USAG.
Nassar currently faces three charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges involving a person younger than 13 in Ingham County and three federal charges related to possessing, obtaining, or destroying child pornography images or video. The Detroit News reports that over 37,000 images and videos were found.
No charges have yet been brought regarding the actions Nassar took in his role as Michigan State team physician, though police are investigating claims made by over 60 women. Assaults are reported to have taken place at a gymnastics center outside Lansing and at USA Gymnastics events, but the lawsuit states that “most victims were assaulted at MSU.”
The lawsuit naming Klages was filed on Jan. 10 and has been updated numerous times with additional complaints of inappropriate sexual behavior on the part of Nassar dating back to 1996. The update added Tuesday details the abuse reported by Jane GMSU Doe, Jane HMSU Doe, Jane IMSU Doe, and Jane JMSU Doe.
In 1997 or 1998, Nassar is alleged to have sexually assaulted a member of the team who was a minor at the time; when Doe took the complaints to Klages, her head coach convinced the athlete not to complete a formal report, warning her that doing so would have “serious consequences.”
According to the lawsuit, two different Michigan State athletes reported Nassar’s behavior to “trainers and her coach” in both 1999 and 2000; no staff member took action that resulted in any change in either instance.
When another athlete informed Klages that Nassar also assaulted her, Klages is said to have asked Jane IMSU Doe whether Nassar performed the “procedure”—this being the illegal vaginal and anal penetration of female patients “seeking treatment for hip, back, and knee complaints,” sometimes by way of physical restraint; a 2014 victim reported that “he cupped her buttocks, massaged her breast and vaginal area, and became sexually aroused.”
Jane IMSU Doe confirmed to Klages that Nassar had penetrated her during her visit, to which Klages responded by feigning normalcy, saying there would be no reason to address it. Jane IMSU Doe developed an eating disorder and suffered from depression after beginning her visits to Nassar. Her gymnastics career ended as a result.
After Klages’s suspension and the recent sexual assault investigation of three football players and staff member went public, Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis canceled his planned national tour of college basketball games—Hollis is the chairman of the NCAA men’s basketball committee. He instead decided to stick around East Lansing, though no reason was given at the time of cancellation.
The school and the university police department are conducting a total of four investigations related to Nassar. The four football-related sexual assaults garnered an independent investigation by an outside law firm and a Title IX investigation. Michigan State spokesperson Jason Cody told the Lansing State Journal that the university “felt given the circumstances of the case that that was prudent thing to do,” when asked why the approximately 60 complaints of sexual assault against Nassar did not warrant external investigation.
Update (2:06 p.m.): Michigan State spokesperson Jason Cody responded to our request for comment, confirming Klages’s retirement and sending along the following statement in response to being asked why Nassar’s case is being handled internally, unlike the football investigations:
“As to why any two situations may be handled differently, the answer is the details and circumstances of any two situations can vary greatly.”
The lawsuit and Hollis’s letter announcing Klages’s retirement can be found below.