It’s astounding that the Larry Nassar story could continue to reveal further shameful behavior from both Nassar and administrators at Michigan State and USA Gymnastics, but here we are.
Today, a report from Matt Mencarini in the Lansing State Journal may be one of the most damning developments yet, as a lawsuit claims in 1992 Michigan State’s athletic director squashed an assault complaint against Nassar made by a Michigan State athlete. That former-AD, George Perles, is now on the Michigan State board of trustees. And somehow, it gets worse from there.
A woman says in a recently filed lawsuit that Larry Nassar drugged and raped her during a medical appointment in 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 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.
So here we have an assault that was captured on videotape and reported immediately to an authority figure on campus, and it was still dismissed. How did that apparently happen?
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.
Whenever we hear about abuse, assault, or harassment claims, there’s always a crowd rushing to say “Why didn’t they come forward sooner?” as though it’s the victim’s fault. There’s another crowd that likes to defend the men involved by pointing to a lack of witnesses or evidence, or by painting the victim as someone seeking money or attention. And there’s yet another group who thinks women coming forward today are just hopping on a fad, that the #MeToo movement is a grand conspiracy.
Here, then, is a claim from 1992, that the victim reported right away, that was captured on video, and resulted in a massive loss for the victim. And still, whatever action that was taken by Michigan State was action to protect Nassar and the institution, not to aid the victim or investigate her claims. It’s yet another shattering of all the anti-victim narratives, and there’s no better illustration of the importance of believing victims and taking claims of sexual assault seriously than someone covering up for Larry fucking Nassar in 1992, ahead of his next few decades of further crimes.