The plot is thickening. According to the latest lawsuit brought against Dr. Larry Nassar and Michigan State University, MSU women’s gymnastics athletes were instructed to say “no comment” to anyone asking about sexual assault allegations against team physician, Dr. Larry Nassar. This instruction is said to have come from two MSU school officials. These officials told the team, which included some of Nassar’s sexual assault victims, that they were not to speak with the media or the police, or even their own families. There was also a suggestion that the athletes’ phones would be checked to make sure there was no interaction.
Michigan State University representative, Jason Cody, declined to say whether MSU was investigating whether anyone at MSU had instructed students not to talk to the police.
However, MSU Gymnastics Head Coach Kathy Klages resigned on Tuesday, February 14, 2017, one day after being suspended by the University. She had been on the job for 27 years. According to news reports, two women have come forward saying that they told Coach Klages about Dr. Nassar’s sexual assaults two decades ago, but Coach Klages minimized their concerns and told them that they “misunderstood” the legitimate medical techniques employed by Dr. Nassar. Klages explained to one of the victim’s that she could file a report, but that it would have serious consequences for the victim and Nassar.
A second woman, identified as Jane Doe in the civil lawsuit, asserts that Coach Klages sought her out to ask if she had been receiving treatment in the form of digital anal and vaginal penetration. When the woman advised Coach Klages she was, Klages told her there was no reason to talk about Nassar’s actions. Nassar wasn’t fired until September 2016.
Athletic Director Mark Hollis reports that Coach Klages suspension was related to “allegations that members of the women’s gymnastics team were discouraged from cooperating with the ongoing law enforcement investigation of Dr. Nassar.” Hollis claims the coach’s “passionate defense of Dr. Nassar created an emotionally charged environment for the team” at a September 12, 2016 team meeting. That resulted in “members of the women’s gymnastics team being discouraged from cooperating with the ongoing law enforcement investigation of Dr. Nassar.”
According to a recent report from a Nassar victim’s mother, when she confronted Coach Klages about the allegations against Dr. Nassar, including the 34,000 images and videos of child pornography found on Nassar’s computer, Coach Klages suggested that the child pornography had been planted, and went on to say that she would trust Nassar with her daughter and granddaughters.
This story first broke in the Indianapolis Star in September 2016. Since then, more than 60 women and girls have contacted law enforcement to describe their sexual assaults perpetrated by Dr. Larry Nassar. Many of these same victims have filed civil lawsuits against Michigan State, Dr. Nassar, and others. Nassar is currently in the Ingham County jail facing federal and state charges of sexual assault and child pornography.
We understand that it may be incredibly difficult to find the strength to speak up for yourself if you were a victim. However, you are not alone, and we are here to guide you every step of the way. We urge you to speak up and become a voice with all of the other victims who have come forward. You deserve to be heard. Please contact Lisa Esser-Weidenfeller today.
Photo credit: Gymnastics News Network/playgroundmag.com