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Ex-MSU gymnastics coach charged with lying to police amid Nassar investigation

LANSING, Mich. --  Former Michigan State gymnastics coach Kathie Klages was charged Thursday with lying to police amid an investigation into the school's handling of sexual abuse complaints against former sports doctor Larry Nassar. The charges were announced by special independent counsel Bill Forsyth, who was appointed by the state attorney general to investigate the university.

 If convicted of the felony and misdemeanor counts, Klages could face up to four years in prison. Klages has denied allegations that former gymnast Larissa Boyce told her that Nassar had abused her in 1997, when Boyce was 16.

Boyce had been training with the Spartan youth gymnastics team at the time. Boyce has said Klages dissuaded her from taking the issue further, even after another young gymnast relayed similar allegations. 

According to a news release from the Michigan Attorney General's Office, Klages told state police she was never told about Nassar's criminal assault conduct. 

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"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 news release says.   

But witnesses have said that they reported Nassar's sexual abuse to Klages dating back more than two decades, according to the attorney general's office.  

It wasn't immediately clear if Klages has a criminal defense lawyer. A message seeking comment Thursday was left with attorneys defending her in civil lawsuits.

Klages, who resigned in 2017 after she was suspended for defending the now-imprisoned Nassar, is the third person other than Nassar to face criminal charges as a result of investigations into allegations that he abused young athletes under the guise of medical treatment. Hundreds of girls and women have said they were abused by Nassar, including Olympic athletes. 

Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics team doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, listens to Judge Janice Cunningham during his sentencing hearing in the Eaton County Court in Charlotte, Michigan, Feb. 5, 2018.
Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics team doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, listens to Judge Janice Cunningham during his sentencing hearing in the Eaton County Court in Charlotte, Michigan, Feb. 5, 2018. Reuters/Rebecca Cook

Nassar, 55, will be locked up for the rest of his life under criminal sentences imposed after he was convicted of molesting athletes and possessing child pornography. He is at a federal prison in Oklahoma.

In addition to working at Michigan State, Nassar worked with Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains U.S. Olympians. Investigators said the crimes were mostly committed in Michigan at a campus clinic, area gyms and his Lansing-area home. Accusers also said he molested them at a gymnastics-training ranch in Texas, where Nassar also faces charges, and at national and international competitions.

Michigan State softball, volleyball and track and field athletes have also said they told a coach and trainers about Nassar's inappropriate behavior.

Klages faces a felony count, punishable by up to four years in prison, and a misdemeanor count, punishable by up to two years, reports CBS affiliate WLNS.