2 current, 2 former employees of MSU named as defendants in complaint filed against Nassar

UPDATE: John and Kathryn Geddert, of Twistars USA Gymnastics Club release a statement on the Nassar investigation:

“The safety and overall well-being of our athletes is – and has always been – our No. 1 priority. We have many policies in place that are designed to protect our athletes, and we have always taken this responsibility seriously. We had zero knowledge of any of the allegations against Dr. Nassar, who was never an employee of Twistars. Our hearts go out to the women who have spoken up and, like everyone else, we are sickened to the core by their stories. We appreciate the outpouring of support from our Twistars families and the gymnastic community.”

EAST LANSING, MI (WLNS) – Two current and two former employees of Michigan State University are named as defendants in an amended complaint filed against former MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

A fifth person, affiliated with Twistars USA Gymnastics Club, is also named.

It also seeks to add four of the plaintiff’s husbands to a civil lawsuit in federal court.

The complaint was filed Wednesday morning by David Mittleman and Mick Grewal, attorneys for Church Wyble, a division of Grewal Law.

The attorneys represent a dozen women and girls who are alleging that Larry Nassar sexually abused them for years during what they thought was medical treatment.

Those current and former employees at MSU include: Jeffery Kovan, who serves as MSU’s director of sports medicine and performance and head team physician.

Kovan has worked for the university for several years.

It also names William Strampel, the Dean of Osteopathic Medicine.

Documents in Nassar’s personnel file reveal Strampel gave Nassar restrictions following an investigation in 2014, after a patient of Nassar’s voiced concerns about the treatment she was receiving by Nassar.

Former MSU Gymnastics Coach Kathie Klages is also named. Klages retired in February, one day after being suspended by the school.

The school did not initially explain the reason behind the suspension, but said it had to do with Klages handling of controversy surrounding a lawsuit by athletes against Dr. Larry Nassar and MSU.

In a letter to Klages dated February 14, MSU Athletic Director Mark Hollis said Klages, during a September meeting with her gymnastics team, “shared with the team your highly emotional sense of shock regarding the allegations against Dr. Nassar” and that “your passionate defense of Dr. Nassar created an emotionally charged environment for the team.”

The new filing also names Gary Stollak as a defendant. Stollak is a former professor in the clinical program within the Michigan State University Dept.

During witness testimony in February, a woman who is alleging Nassar sexually assaulted her when she was just six or seven years old, said she told Stollak about the abuse after her parents urged her to see a psychologist.

The woman was a family friend of Nassar’s. She says she was not seeking medical treatment from him.

John Geddert, the owner of Twistars’ USA Gymnastics Club is also named. Twistars in Dimondale opened in 1996.

Dr. Nassar worked there as a volunteer, who was present typically one to two hours per week.

John Geddert coached the U.S. Gymnastics team at the 2012 Olympics.

 

MSU spokesperson, Jason Cody released the following statement on Wednesday:

“It is not appropriate for MSU to comment on ongoing or pending litigation. However, I can tell you we take all allegations, raised either via victims reporting to police or by legal motions, very seriously. MSU Police are investigating all criminal allegations thoroughly, and any findings would be referred to the appropriate prosecutor for review.”

6 News has reached out to Klages’ attorney, Shirlee Bobryk and John Geddert for comment.

The university says the only time it was made aware of a complaint against Nassar was in 2014, after a patient raised concerns about the treatment she received by Nassar.

Jason Cody, a spokesperson for the university, says MSU investigated the incident.

In July 2014, as a result of that investigation, MSU’s Dean of Osteopathic Medicine, William Strampel, emailed Dr. Nassar saying the following:

– “We will have another person, (resident, nurse, etc.) in the room whenever we are approaching a patient to perform procedures of anything close to a sensitive area.

– The procedure which caused the patient emotional distress because of her interpretation will be modified in the future to be sure that there is little to no skin to skin contact when in these regions. Should this be absolutely necessary, the procedure will be explained in detail with another person in the room for both the explanation and the procedure

– New people in our practice will be oriented to be sure they understand these requirements.

Cody said that when Nassar was given those guidelines, put into place by his supervisor in 2014, he was expected to follow them.

Cody said when the university found out in September 2016 that Nassar didn’t follow those guidelines, MSU fired him.

Due to pending litigation, Cody says he cannot comment on whether the health assistant was supposed to be told about the requirements or address why she apparently wasn’t told.

But in a letter to Nassar terminating his employment in 2016, Suresh Mukherji, chairman of the Department of Radiology, and Dr. William Strampel, Dean of Osteopathic Medicine, wrote that Nassar had admitted not always following the procedures set out in the 2014 restrictions.

Some of the women who are accusing Nassar of sexual abuse are also suing MSU, accusing the school of failing to act on complaints against him.

Several of those plaintiffs in court documents say they told Klages as far back as the late 1990s that Nassar abused them, and accuse her of failing to act on their complaints.

Shortly after she announced her retirement in early February, Klages released a statement through her attorney, Shirlee Bobryk. It said in part: (Kathie) “is deeply disturbed by the recent allegations and lawsuits” and that “she is extremely distressed by the accusations that have been made about her creating any sort of impediment to gymnasts reporting complaints of criminal sexual conduct or sexually inappropriate behavior.”

Nassar now faces more than 20 charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct at the state level. He’s also facing federal child pornography charges.

On top of the criminal cases, nearly 50 women in civil court are also suing him.

To date, MSU Police say more than 90 people have filed complaints against Nassar.

Nassar has maintained his innocence in both state and federal court and says the treatments he performed on his patients were accepted medical techniques.

Nassar is due back in court for a preliminary hearing in Ingham County on May 12 and May 26.

The preliminary hearing in Eaton County has been set for June 30.

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