GRAND RAPIDS - A woman says in a recently filed lawsuit that Larry Nassar drugged and raped her during a medical appointment in the spring of 1992, when she was a Michigan State University field hockey player.
Erika Davis told her coach what happened, including that the assault was videotaped, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Grand Rapids and includes her name. Her coach, Martha Ludwig, confronted Nassar about what happened and demanded and received a copy of the recording, according to the lawsuit.
George Perles, who had resigned as athletic director in 1992 and is a current Michigan State University trustee, later intervened and the complaint was dropped, according to the lawsuit. Perles forced Ludwig to return the video, resign and sign a non-disclosure agreement, according to the lawsuit.
Nassar was a student in MSU's College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1992, although in 1986 he began working as an athletic trainer with USA Gymnastics. MSU hired him in 1997, following his work with the U.S. women's gymnastics team at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
According to the lawsuit, Davis was 17 when the rape occurred. Davis says in the lawsuit that she became pregnant, that Nassar is the only person who could have been the father and that she later had a miscarriage.
MSU spokeswoman Emily Guerrant released a statement on the lawsuit.
"We are deeply sorry for the abuses Larry Nassar has committed and for the trauma experienced by all sexual assault survivors," she 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."
In October 1992, Davis and two friends went to the MSU Police Department to file a report, according to the lawsuit.
"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."
Davis later had her field hockey scholarship taken away from her, according to the lawsuit.
"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," Davis' attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.
"Defendant Michigan State University could have stopped Defendant Nassar’s conduct back in 1992, but did not."
The lawsuit names MSU, the Board of Trustees, Nassar, USA Gymnastics and others as defendants.
Messages were left seeking comment from Perles and Davis' attorneys. Ludwig could not be reached for comment.
Perles, who was named head football coach at MSU in 1982, became athletic director in 1990. He left the AD position in the spring of 1992, handing the reins to Merrily Dean Baker, who came on board in mid-May.
Baker said Tuesday that she had no knowledge of a rape being reported and she believed she would have been told if it happened shortly before she started in the post.
Current MSU Police Chief Jim Dunlap, who said he didn't know about the lawsuit or whether the department ever received a report, said it was "nonsense" that the department would have declined to investigate because Perles or the athletic department was involved.
"It just doesn’t happen," he said. "We just don't do things that way."
Dunlap worked for the department in 1992, but he was not the police chief then.
The MSU Police Department led the criminal investigation of Nassar in 2014 and 2016. The 2014 investigation ended when Ingham County prosecutors declined to issue charges. The 2016 investigation ended with state and federal convictions and hundreds of women and girls reporting that Nassar had abused them.
While Davis' lawsuit is the most recent to say that MSU officials were told of Nassar's sexual abuse prior to 2016, it isn't the only to make that claim.
Larissa Boyce has said that she and another teen raised concerns about Nassar's sexual abuse in 1997, to then MSU women's gymnasics coach Kathie Klages. Klages was charged last month with lying to police about the disclosures.
Tiffany Thomas Lopez, a former MSU softball player, said in late 2016 that she told three MSU trainers about Nassar abuse between 1998 about 2000.
Amanda Thomashow was a recent MSU graduate in 2014 when she told MSU that Nassar sexually assaulted her during a medical appointment, which prompted a police and university Title IX investigation.
Kyle Stephens, who Nassar pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting outside of a medical setting, disclosed her childhood abuse to an MSU clinical psychologist in 2004.
What lawsuit alleges
During a spring practice in 1992, Davis injured her knee and Ludwig recommended she make appointment with Nassar, according to the lawsuit.
Davis' coach "knew Defendant Nassar through a mutual friend and also told Plaintiff Erika that Defendant Nassar was conducting a study and needed athlete participants," Davis' attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.
Davis went to see Nassar on a Friday in the spring of 1992 and he began to groom her, according to her lawsuit. The lawsuit says the abuse happened at an office, but does not specify where the office was.
"He asked her a variety of questions including, but not limited to, whether her father was around, whether she had ever done gymnastics, and whether she had ever had a vaginal exam," Davis' attorneys wrote, adding that Nassar also said he was doing a flexibility study through the the university.
Then, with another man in the room with a video camera, Nassar asked if Davis had ever had a breast examination, which she had not, according to the lawsuit.
"Defendant Nassar then told her that she had prepubescent breasts, but that he thought he could get the nipples hard," Davis' attorneys wrote. "He then used his hands and then his mouth to do so. During this time, the cameraman was filming Defendant Nassar’s sexual abuse of Plaintiff Erika. Defendant Nassar then asked the cameraman to step outside for a discussion."
When Nassar came back into the room he asked Davis to come back in one week for a full female exam, according to the lawsuit, and
Nassar used a camera to record the next appointment and, according to the lawsuit, crushed up a pill and made Davis drink it but would not tell her what it was.
"Soon thereafter, Plaintiff Erika got so tired and could not move her arms. Eventually, she could not keep her eyelids open and got very woozy," her attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.
"When she was less woozy a short time later, Plaintiff Erika witnessed Defendant Nassar raping her."
Davis disclosed the rape to two of her friends and then to Ludwig, who, according to the lawsuit, confronted Nassar in May 1992.
Davis said she repressed the memories until February 2018, the month that Nassar's two sentencing hearings on state sexual assault charges ended. The hearings garnered national and international media attention and prompted more women and girls to come forward with stories of abuse.
Davis "began to realize what had been done to her when other victims began to come forward and when she saw a video of her being examined by Defendant Nassar on the news," her attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.
Davis filed her lawsuit on Monday, joining hundreds of other women and girls who have said Nassar sexually abused them, including at least one other woman who said that, in the early 1990s, Nassar called her home and said he was conducting a medical study on behalf of one of MSU's medical schools.
Nassar invited the woman, who was between 12 and 14 years old at that time, to his apartment where he had her perform the splits and then measured her flexibility before and after having her sit naked in the bathtub, according to a lawsuit filed last year.
Nassar told her the "payment" for participating in the study was a nude full-body massage, according to the lawsuit, during which he digitally penetrated her vaginally and anally.
Several other women have said Nassar made inappropriate comments about their bodies or made sexual comments when they saw him for medical appointments.
Earlier this year, MSU agreed to settle lawsuits filed by more than 300 women and girls for $425 million, with an additional $75 million set aside for future lawsuits. Monday was the deadline that settlement agreement set for new claims.
Baker, who served as MSU’s first female athletic director from spring 1992 until 1995, said she had "absolutely no knowledge" of any report related to Davis' allegations being brought to the athletic department during her tenure.
"I didn’t know anything about it at all," Baker said. "I guarantee it would have never been squashed had I been AD."
Baker said early Tuesday afternoon she had not yet had the opportunity to read the lawsuit but added she had never heard of the report being brought to Perles, her predecessor.
"I’m not trying to make any judgment about this happening or not happening," Baker said. "I just think. if this incident had been reported to the athletic department right before I started, I would have heard something about it."
Baker has been critical of "cultural problems" at MSU amid the Nassar scandal. She described herself as a Title IX specialist and said she has served as an expert witness in Title IX litigation.
The Michigan Attorney General's Office, which prosecuted Nassar on state sexual assault charges and is investigating MSU's handling of Nassar, is aware of the Davis' lawsuit, spokeswoman Andrea Bitely said. She declined to comment further.
MSU fired Nassar in September 2016, amid an increasing number of sexual assault reports dating back years.
Nassar, 55, formerly of Holt, is serving a 60-year federal prison sentence on child pornography convictions.
He was also sentenced to decades in prison for sexually assaulting nine girls, including one he abused outside of a medical setting.
Nassar has appealed his sentences. All of those appeals have been denied so far.
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