DETROIT — The Michigan Supreme Court rejected an appeal Wednesday and will not reinstate the conviction of a retired Michigan State University gymnastics coach accused of lying to investigators about campus sports doctor Larry Nassar.
The state attorney’s office has expanded its investigation beyond Nassar, who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing athletes, mostly female gymnasts. But prosecutors have now 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 his conviction and said his statements in a 2018 interview were “immaterial, rather than material.”
Nassar was already in jail at the time, though authorities said they were investigating how the university had responded in recent years 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 sexually abused them, before the scandal erupted with extraordinary allegations by others in 2016.
Klages insists he is innocent and cannot remember a conversation with either woman, 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 because of any alleged cover-up by Klages, the appeals court said in 2021, adding in a footnote that authorities appeared to be in a “roving inquiry” to embarrass Michigan State .
Attorney General Dana Nessel warned that the Supreme Court’s refusal to step in meant 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 public passion,” Chartier said, calling the Klages investigation a “sham.”
Nassar is a team doctor for Michigan State and an Olympic women gymnast. He was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison after hundreds of women accused him of decades of molestation under the guise of medical treatment.
Separately, Lou Anna Simon, a former president of Michigan State, was charged with lying to investigators about her knowledge of the complaints against Nassar. But an Eaton County judge dismissed the case, saying there wasn’t enough evidence.
The appeals court agreed in December. Nessel refused to take it to the Supreme Court.