Lawsuit: Trustee Perles knew Nassar drugged, raped girl in ‘92
Over the last two years, the story of the hundreds of women and girls sexually abused by ex-MSU doctor Larry Nassar and what enabled him to avoid prosecution for so long has taken many turns. The allegations in a recently filed lawsuit bring new factors to the story.
The lawsuit marks the earliest report of Nassar’s abuse to date. It says the university knew what was happening as early as 1992, five years earlier than was previously thought — and did nothing.
In October 1992, Nassar, then a 29-year-old student in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, drugged, raped and impregnated, Erika Davis, an underage MSU athlete, the lawsuit says. Davis was a 17-year-old MSU field hockey player at the time.
Davis’ lawsuit says her rape was filmed under the guise of a medical study.
Then-women’s field hockey coach Martha Ludwig learned of the assault from Davis, confronted Nassar and “demanded and received the video of Plaintiff Erika’s appointment with Defendant Nassar.”
After the rape, Davis learned she was pregnant. However, she miscarried. Nassar was the only possible father, according to the lawsuit.
Davis’ report came five years before survivor Larissa Boyce reported to then-gymnastics coach Kathie Klages in what was previously know as the earliest report of Nassar’s abuse to an MSU employee.
“Defendant Michigan State University could have stopped Defendant Nassar’s conduct back in 1992, but did not,” Davis’ attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit says that Davis’ rape was reported to multiple people within the university: then-MSU women’s field hockey coach Martha Ludwig, the MSU Police Department and the athletic department.
MSU Trustee George Perles, who resigned as the athletic director in May 1992, interfered with the investigation, resulting in the complaint being dropped, the lawsuit says. He was not employed by MSU at the time.
Perles forced Ludwig to return the video, resign and sign a non-disclosure agreement, the lawsuit says.
However, the lawsuit claims Ludwig likely made a copy of the video.
While reporting the assault to MSUPD, a detective sergeant allegedly told her “he was powerless to investigate” because she was an athlete. Instead, police told her she should go to the athletic department. After Davis informed them she was already rebuffed by the MSU athletic department, “the Sergeant responded that George Perles is a ‘powerful man,’ and she should just drop it,” her attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.
After reporting the assault to MSUPD, Davis lost her NCAA scholarship, the lawsuit says.
“This proves that not only did Defendant Michigan State University have knowledge that Defendant Nassar sexually abused and sexually assaulted minors, but that it would also go to great lengths to conceal this conduct,” the lawsuit said.
In 1997, five years after the alleged rape, Nassar was hired by the university. That same year, Boyce said she told the university that he sexually assaulted her. Boyce said Klages convinced her not to file a report.
Many other survivors say they reported Nassar’s abuse to the university after Davis and Boyce. In 1998 and 2000, two student athletes reported concerns about Nassar to trainers but according to lawsuits filed in 2017, no action was taken by the university.
In 2004, Kyle Stephens notified MSU clinical psychologist Gary Stollak of her childhood abuse by Nassar. In 2014, Amanda Thomashow told the university about her assault, and three months after an investigation was launched, Nassar was cleared of any wrongdoing.
Vice President and university spokesperson Emily Guerrant responded to the lawsuit in an email statement.
“We are deeply sorry for the abuses Larry Nassar has committed, and for the trauma experienced by all sexual assault survivors,” Guerrant said. “Sexual abuse, assault and relationship violence are not tolerated in our campus community. While the protocols and procedures mentioned in this lawsuit do not reflect how sexual assault claims are handled at MSU, we are taking the allegations very seriously and looking into the situation.
“MSU is working diligently to create a campus community where all members feel safe to study and work free from the threat of sexual misconduct and relationship violence. At the same time, we want to make sure that when survivors of sexual assault or relationship violence come forward, they are treated with respect, listened to and that we provide the appropriate supports throughout the reporting process.”
Davis’ lawsuit names MSU, Klages, former Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine William Strampel, USA Gymnastics, Twistars Gymnastics Club, John Geddert, former director of SportsMedicine Jeffrey Kovan, retired MSU professor of clinical psychology Gary Stollak, Clinical Director of MSU SportsMedicine Douglas Dietzel and former MSU doctors Brooke Lemmon and Destiny Teachnor-Hauk as defendants.
Nassar is serving a 60 year federal sentence for child pornography. He was also charged in Ingham and Eaton counties. His appeal for resentencing in both counties was denied.
He is in a prison in Florida.