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Lawsuit claims Nassar raped and impregnated former MSU athlete and school covered it up

Larry Nassar
Emma Winowiecki
Michigan Radio
Nassar at his 2018 sentencing in Eaton County.

A former Michigan State University field hockey player has alleged former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar raped and impregnated her in 1992, and that former athletic director and head football coach George Perles covered it up. Perles is currently a member of the Michigan State Board of Trustees.

The lawsuit was filed Monday, the last day for Nassar accusers to file claims with MSU as part of the school's $500 million settlement with more than 300 victims who sued the university.

Nassar is serving a 60-year federal prison sentence for child pornography, and is also convicted of sexually assaulting women and girls under the guise of medical treatment.

MSU spokesperson Emily Guerrant issued a statement Tuesday in response to the lawsuit.

“We are deeply sorry for the abuses Larry Nassar has committed, and for the trauma experienced by all sexual assault survivors. 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.”

The plaintiff, Erika Davis, claims she went to see Nassar for a sports injury in 1992, when she was 17 years old. Nassar was not an MSU employee in 1992.

According to court documents, Nassar informed Davis that he was conducting a study on flexibility through MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. A cameraman was also allegedly present.

“Nassar further inquired whether Plaintiff Erika had ever had a breast examination, and she had not,” according to the court documents. “Nassar asked her to remove her shirt and bra, which she did. ... During this time, the cameraman was filming Defendant Nassar’s sexual abuse of (Davis)."

After that incident, the lawsuit claims Nassar asked Davis to return a week later for a female exam. During that exam, according to court documents, Nassar made Davis take a crushed-up pill without telling her what it was. Davis reports becoming drowsy.

The lawsuit alleges Nassar also used a camera during that appointment.

According to Davis' account, she felt pain that evening. She went to her field hockey coach, Martha Ludwig, who allegedly demanded Nassar hand over the tape. Ludwig also complained to Perles, according to court documents.

The lawsuit claims Perles intervened, and Ludwig was "forced to return the video, resign and sign a non-disclosure agreement." 

Weeks later, Davis missed a period and took a pregnancy test, which was positive. She says in the lawsuit Nassar was the only possible father.

The court documents say she then went to the MSU police department.

“The police told them that since she was an athlete, she had to report it to the athletic department,” according to the court documents. “The detective explicitly told them that he was powerless to investigate anything that takes place to the athletic department [sic] and to go to the athletic department.

"Plaintiff Erika explained that the athletic department already dismissed it and the Sergeant responded that George Perles is a 'powerful man,' and she should just drop it."

Davis miscarried, according to court documents. She stopped seeing Nassar after the incident, and also claims she lost her field hockey scholarship soon after.

Attempts to reach the lawyers filing the case, and George Perles were unsuccessful.

Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
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