A new lawsuit takes allegations against former Michigan State physician Larry Nassar to a new level — rape — while claiming MSU police were reluctant to act in the face of the athletic department’s perceived authority.
According to a report at ESPN.com, Erika Davis was a 17-year-old field hockey player in 1992, when head coach Martha Ludwig recommended she see Nassar regarding a knee injury. Her lawsuit, filed Monday on the deadline for all new Nassar-related complaints, claims that during one appointment in the spring of 1992, Nassar performed a breast exam on Davis that included placing his hands and mouth on her nipples as another man videotaped the process. Davis then claims that a week later Nassar drugged her, and — in a moment of regained consciousness — she realized he was raping her.
At the time, Nassar was working as an athletic trainer while a student in the university’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. He would ascend to the position of team physician, and later face 333 total complaints by women who accused him of sexual assault.
According to a USA Today timeline, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison on child pornography charges, to which he's admitted, in December 2017. In January of this year, he was sentenced in Ingham County Circuit Court to 40 to 175 years in prison on sexual assault charges, prompting the resignation of MSU president Lou Anna Simon, and less than two weeks later he was sentenced in Eaton County to 40 to 125 years in federal prison.
The Davis lawsuit, which names as defendants Nassar, Michigan State, the university’s board of trustees and several current and former employees, is the first to allege rape. Among MSU’s current trustees is George Perles. In 1992, Perles was still head football coach at Michigan State, though he had recently stepped down from his dual role as the university’s athletic director.
The lawsuit states that Davis told Ludwig, her coach, about the “breast exam” in May 1992, and that Ludwig obtained from Nassar a copy of the tape and approached Perles about the incident shortly thereafter. The suit alleges that Perles forced Ludwig to turn over the tape, and that chargers were soon dropped.
Davis also claims that she reported being pregnant to her “dorm mom,” and after a miscarriage reported the alleged rape to the MSU police department while accompanied by two friends. According to the lawsuit, “The police told them that since she was an athlete, she had to report it to the athletic department. The detective explicitly told them that he was powerless to investigate anything that takes place to the athletic department and to go to the athletic department.” Moreover, the lawsuit states that the detective providing this information referred to Perles as a “powerful man” and suggested she drop the allegations.
As reported by ESPN.com, Michigan State police chief Jim Dunlap said he had not read the lawsuit, but said the assertion that police would refer the investigation of a crime to the athletic department was “nonsense.”
“I wasn’t the chief 26 years ago, but I was here 26 years ago and I can tell you philosophically that just didn’t occur that we refuse to take a report,” Dunlap said. “You might not like an outcome from an investigation, but I can say unequivocally we don’t give investigations to non-law enforcement agencies.”
On May 16, MSU agreed to a $500 million settlement with the hundreds of women and girls who claim Nassar sexually assaulted them.