A former Michigan State University gymnastics coach was charged on Thursday with two counts of lying to the authorities about whether she knew that Lawrence G. Nassar, a former team doctor for the university and U.S.A. Gymnastics, had sexually abused numerous young women for decades.
The coach, Kathie Klages, was aware of Dr. Nassar’s abuse for more than 20 years, according to the Michigan attorney general’s office. The charges came seven months after the doctor was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison, and he faces other lengthy sentences in federal and state courts.
Ms. Klages was a coach at the university for 27 years before retiring last year. She left her post after she was accused of trying to cover up allegations of Dr. Nassar’s abuse of young athletes. The doctor’s victims included Olympians who went public with their stories.
Emily Guerrant, a spokeswoman for Michigan State, said in a statement on Thursday, “The university was not present when she gave statements to the Michigan State Police, so we have no comment on what she told investigators or the charges announced today.”
Lindsey Lemke, 22, a former Michigan State gymnast who was coached by Ms. Klages, recalled feeling that her coach was trying to manipulate her when she told her in 2016 that Dr. Nassar had sexually abused her.
“She was trying to defend Larry,” Ms. Lemke said in an interview. “She was saying that what he was doing was medical treatment and was helping. She said that I needed to do my research to make sure that I wasn’t giving any false information to the police.”
“They are very good friends,” Ms. Lemke added. “She wanted me to truly believe that Larry was helping me.”
When Ms. Klages spoke with Michigan State Police detectives, she denied having been told of Dr. Nassar’s sexual abuse before 2016, prosecutors said. Witnesses have said that they reported the abuse to her as far back as 20 years ago.
In 2017, a woman named Larissa Boyce who was joining a federal lawsuit said in court documents that she had told Ms. Klages about Dr. Nassar in the late 1990s.
Lawyers for Dr. Nassar did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment. Efforts to reach Ms. Klages’s legal representatives were unsuccessful.
The women who accused Dr. Nassar of sexual abuse said that it went on for decades and that most of it happened while he was working for U.S.A. Gymnastics and at Michigan State. At the doctor’s sentencing hearings, hundreds of women spoke about being abused or had their statements read aloud.
U.S.A. Gymnastics, the governing body for the sport, is still grappling with upheaval, with prominent gymnasts calling for more transparency and accountability. Congress has questioned the organization’s president, Kerry Perry, and Michigan State’s interim president, John Engler, over the scandal.
Michigan State has also been heavily criticized for its handling of the case, and the scandal forced Lou Anna K. Simon to resign as president in January.
In June, Dr. Nassar was also charged with six counts of second-degree sexual assault on a child after an investigation involving a gymnastics training center near Huntsville, Tex., that is owned by Bela and Martha Karolyi, the former coordinators and coaches of the United States women’s gymnastics team.
Ms. Lemke said on Thursday, “A lot of people told me I was disgusting, disrespectful, and that all I wanted was attention.”
She added, “I am lucky enough to see one of the people who enabled my abuser be held accountable, and some people never get that.”
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