DETROIT — The Michigan Supreme Court turned down an appeal Wednesday and won’t reinstate the conviction of a retired Michigan State University gymnastics coach who was accused of lying to investigators about campus sports doctor Larry Nassar.
The state attorney general’s office had widened its investigation beyond Nassar, who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing athletes, mostly female gymnasts. But prosecutors now have lost two high-profile cases.
Kathie Klages was sentenced to 90 days in jail in 2020 on charges of lying to police. But the Michigan Court of Appeals in December threw out her conviction and said her statements in a 2018 interview were “inconsequential, rather than material.”
Nassar was already in prison at the time, though authorities said they were investigating how the university years earlier had responded to allegations about him.
The state Supreme Court, in a one-sentence order, said it was not persuaded to intervene in the Klages case.
Two women testified at trial that in 1997, while attending a youth gymnastics camp, they told Klages that Nassar had sexually abused them, long before the scandal erupted with extraordinary allegations by others in 2016.
Klages insisted she was innocent and could not remember a conversation with either girl, especially two decades later. She was the Michigan State women’s gymnastics coach for 27 years before suddenly retiring in 2017.
State prosecutors never presented evidence that anyone “got away” with a crime due to any alleged cover-up by Klages, the appeals court said in 2021, adding in a footnote that authorities seemed to be on a “roving inquiry” to embarrass Michigan State.
Attorney General Dana Nessel warned that the Supreme Court’s refusal to step in means a “dangerous precedent” by the appeals court could affect how police conduct other investigations in the state.
Klages attorney Mary Chartier welcomed the Supreme Court’s unanimous order.
“From the beginning, the government relied on inflaming the passion of the public,” said Chartier, who called the Klages investigation a “sham.”
Nassar was a team doctor for Michigan State and Olympic women gymnasts. He was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison after hundreds of women and girls accused him of decades of molestation under the guise of medical treatment.
Separately, Lou Anna Simon, a former Michigan State president, was charged with lying to investigators about her knowledge of complaints against Nassar. But an Eaton County judge dismissed the case, saying there was insufficient evidence.
The appeals court agreed in December. Nessel declined to take it to the Supreme Court.