Lawsuit alleges Larry Nassar drugged and raped an athlete in 1992 and Michigan State covered it up

Michigan State University may have been cleared by the NCAA of any wrongdoing in its handling of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal, but the school’s troubles are far from over. A lawsuit has been filed in federal court by former Michigan State University athlete Erika Davis, which accuses Larry Nassar of drugging and raping her in 1992 and recording the encounter.

Why haven’t we heard about this until now? The lawsuit alleges that George Perles, the former Michigan State athletic director who is currently on the board of trustees, intervened in the case and got it dropped, allowing Nassar to go unpunished.

AD accused of cover-up over Larry Nassar’s rape accusation

In 1992, Davis was a student at Michigan State, and a member of the field hockey team with an athletic scholarship. Nassar was a 29-year-old student at Michigan State’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, but was treating athletes. According to the lawsuit (via, Davis visited Nassar twice. The first time, he told her to take off her shirt and bra in front of a camera, and he touched her breasts with his hands and mouth. During the second visit, Nassar gave Davis a pill that made her feel woozy. She passed out, and says she woke up while Nassar was raping her as the camera was recording.

Davis says she told her coach, Martha Ludwig, about the incident, and Ludwig confronted Nassar and demanded a copy of the tape, which she received. In May of 1992, Ludwig went to athletic director George Perles with the tape and the complaint, but instead of punishing Nassar, the lawsuit alleges that Perles demanded that Ludwig give him the tape, and then forced her to resign and sign a non-disclosure agreement. Davis’ complaint against Nassar was dismissed, and her field hockey scholarship was taken away.

In the lawsuit, Davis says she discovered she was pregnant soon after the rape. As she was a virgin when Nassar raped her, only he could have been the father. Davis later had a miscarriage.

Key names in the Nassar sexual abuse case fallout
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Key names in the Nassar sexual abuse case fallout

Former doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for the sexual abuse he committed on over 150 gymnasts.

(Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

MSU president Lou Anna Simon announced her resignation on January 24. 

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

MSU athletic director Mark Hollis resigned on January 26.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun called for the entirety of the USA Gymnastics board to step down. 

(Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images)

Head basketball coach Tom Izzo is under scrutiny after several of his former players have been accused of sexual misconduct while at MSU. 

(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Head football coach Mark Dantonio called claims that he mishandled sexual assault allegations as "completely false."

(Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Former Michigan State University gymnastics head coach Kathie Klages

(Sundeep Dhanjal/The State News via AP File)


Police refused to investigate?

After Davis’ complaint was dismissed by the athletic department, she went to the police in October 1992, and took two friends with her. In the lawsuit (via the Lansing State Journal), she says that they refused to help her.

“The police told them that since she was an athlete, she had to report it to the athletic department,” her attorneys wrote in the lawsuit. “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.

“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.”

Current police chief Jim Dunlap told the Lansing State Journal that it was “nonsense” that the police would have declined to investigate or even file a report if someone came in saying they were raped. Dunlap was not the police chief in 1992.

Larry Nassar could have been stopped

Davis is one of the earliest victims of Larry Nassar, who would go on to sexually assault and abuse hundreds of underage girls as the team doctor for USA Gymnastics and as a staff doctor at Michigan State. The lawsuit alleges that if Perles had done what he was supposed to do and protect student athletes, Larry Nassar could have been stopped.

“Defendant Michigan State University could have stopped Defendant Nassar’s conduct back in 1992, but did not,” the lawsuit states. “Defendant Michigan State University could have prevented hundreds of young girls and women from being sexually assaulted by Defendant Nassar had they only acted appropriately, decently and lawfully in 1992.”

Perles was first elected to the board of trustees in 2006. He was Michigan State’s head football coach from 1982-1994, but was fired for grade tampering and other issues. He served as athletic director for two years during that time, resigning from that position in 1992.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter at @lizroscher.

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