Defense: Case related to Nassar is about memory, not lies

Michigan
Former Michigan State University women's gymnastics coach Kathie Klages listens to prosecutor's opening statements Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Joyce Draganchuk's courtroom at Veterans Memorial Courthouse in Lansing, Mich. Klages is charged with lying to investigators in connection with sexual assault complaints against sports doctor Larry Nassar. (Anntaninna Biondo/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

Former Michigan State University women’s gymnastics coach Kathie Klages listens to prosecutor’s opening statements Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Joyce Draganchuk’s courtroom at Veterans Memorial Courthouse in Lansing, Mich. Klages is charged with lying to investigators in connection with sexual assault complaints against sports doctor Larry Nassar. (Anntaninna Biondo/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The case against a former Michigan State University gymnastics coach accused of lying to investigators about sports doctor Larry Nassar is about memory, a lawyer told jurors Tuesday.

Kathie Klages is charged with perjury for what she told investigators about the history of assault complaints against the campus doctor. She insists she didn’t know prior to 2016 that gymnasts had complained, but two teens said they brought concerns to her in 1997.

Defense attorney Takura Nyamfukudza said Michigan prosecutors weren’t satisfied with Nassar’s decadeslong sentences for assault and decided to pursue others, including Klages.

“Please remember, ladies and gentlemen, this is a case about memory. Kathie Klages’ memory,” Nyamfukudza told jurors. “It doesn’t matter what the government thinks she should have remembered.”

Nyamfukudza said investigators “tag-teamed” Klages in 2018 about a conversation more than 20 years earlier.

But Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark said Klages denied recalling complaints about Nassar because she wanted to protect herself.

“Telling the truth matters,” Hagaman-Clark said in her opening statement. “Telling the truth when it is the most difficult matters.”

Klages is charged with two counts of lying to an officer.

More than 300 victims, mostly young women and girls, say Nassar molested them under the guise of treatment for back problems and other injuries. He worked at Michigan State and USA Gymnastics and also saw athletes who were referred to him.

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