MSU Gymnastics coach named in lawsuit filed Tuesday

EAST LANSING, MI (WLNS) – Employees at Michigan State University were told that a prominent doctor was abusing students as far back as the late 1990’s, according to lawsuits filed on Monday and Tuesday.

Former MSU Dr. Larry Nassar is currently facing state and federal charges.

Michigan State University insists it was never notified about his abuse until 2014. A spokesperson says the university investigated that complaint and took action.

However, the suits filed this week say that current MSU Gymnastics Coach Kathie Klages was told by an athlete.

According to the complaint, Nassar would tell the MSU athlete to take her pants off and then use his hands internally for what he claimed were treatments. It goes on to say that Nassar often became aroused while doing it.

The complaint says the MSU athlete brought concerns to Klages about Dr. Larry Nassar’s treatments. Klages allegedly told the athlete she must be “misunderstanding” or “reading into” what Nassar was doing.

The complaint also alleges that Klages explained she could file something, but it would have serious consequences for the athlete and Nassar. It goes on to say this conversation left the athlete feeling intimidated, embarrassed, and scared.

“She, Kathie, the coach, actually held up a piece of paper saying.. I could file this but if I do..there will be serious consequences for you and Dr. Nassar. Do you think that’s a little intimidating? I do,” Attorney, David Mittleman said.

The motion claims that as early as 1997 or 1998, representatives of MSU were made aware of Nassar’s conduct, yet failed to appropriately respond to allegations.

The motion alleges that other MSU staffers and trainers were warned twice more in 1999 and 2000.

Besides Klages, who has been the MSU Gymnastics coach for 27 years, the suit does not name the students who came forward with complaints, or the other staffers and trainers who were warned about Nassar’s behavior.

According to claims, following an investigation, Nassar became subject to new institutional guidelines at MSU, one of which, stating that Nassar was not to examine or treat patients alone, however the motion filed Tuesday suggests, Nassar ignored those new guidelines.

All evidence of said allegations will be presented as the legal process continues.

In an interview with David Mittleman last week, the Okemos attorney said that if these accusations are true, MSU may be obstructing justice.

6 News reached out to Klages for comment, she did not respond to a phone call or email.

MSU spokesperson Jason Cody released the following statement on the recent filings:

“We take the allegations raised by the recent legal motions very seriously. MSU Police are investigating all allegations thoroughly, and any findings would be referred to the appropriate prosecutor for review. If evidence is uncovered that an MSU employee sought to interfere with the criminal case or prevent individuals from coming forward, we will take appropriate action.  The university will not tolerate any interference with the investigation. From the beginning of the investigation into Larry Nassar in August, MSU leadership has encouraged anyone who has a complaint against Nassar or has any information about the criminal allegations to come forward to MSU Police.”

Mittleman, who has already filed two motions seeking for plaintiffs to be added to a federal lawsuit, also compared the allegations against Dr. Nassar and MSU to the situation that occurred at Penn State University and retired assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky.

Sandusky was accused of sexually abusing young boys. The university eventually spent millions of dollars in settlements to more than 30 accusers.

REPORTER: “What do you know about the Sandusky catastrophe that you believe could compare to this and make it worse than?”

MITTLEMAN: “If the numbers continue as they have been over the last month, growing, it will be perhaps an excessive 10 times what occurred at Penn State…and that’s what I fear.”

Since September 2016, more than 60 women and girls have come forward with sexual assault allegations against Nassar.

At least six five civil lawsuits have been filed against Nassar. MSU is named as a defendant in two of them.

“He’s a master manipulator. He would literally abuse the young girls in his office while a parent or both parents were in the office,” Mittleman said. “No question in my mind that the endorsement of having MSU hiring him and the Olympic gymnastics group, USA Gymnastics, endorsing him essentially, gave him the stature that allowed him to prey on these young girls.”

Nassar is facing three charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and is in jail being held on federal charges of child pornography after thousands of images were found on his property.

Since Friday last week, four motions to add a new plaintiff to a federal case have been filed. This could add the potential amount of plaintiffs on that lawsuit to 26.

This is a developing story. Stay with 6 News for updates.

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