A former Michigan State University student says former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar drugged, raped, and impregnated her when she saw him for treatment for an injured knee, according to a new lawsuit.
Nassar, accused of sexually abusing hundreds of women for decades, was sentenced in January to more than 100 years behind bars.
In 1992, Erika Davis was 17, a virgin, and playing field hockey at Michigan State on a scholarship, when Nassar started to “groom” her for sexual abuse, Davis alleges. The lawsuit was filed on Monday in U.S. district court and names Michigan State University, its board of trustees, Nassar, USA Gymnastics, and several other individuals as defendants.
Michigan State agreed in May to pay $500 million to Nassar’s victims.
Davis said she told multiple Michigan State staffers, including an officer at the college police department, about the alleged abuse at the time, but her accusations were covered up with help from a current Michigan State trustee.
“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,” the lawsuit alleges. “Defendant Michigan State University could have stopped Defendant Nassar’s conduct back in 1992, but did not.”
“We are deeply sorry for the abuses Larry Nassar has committed, and for the trauma experienced by all sexual assault survivors,” Michigan State spokesperson Emma Guerrant said in a statement. “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 her lawsuit, Davis said she began seeing Nassar at the recommendation of her coach. At her first visit, Nassar asked Davis questions, according to the lawsuit, “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.”
Nassar then allegedly told Davis that he was participating in a “flexibility study” and had a cameraman present to film their appointment. When Davis told Nassar she’d never had a breast exam, Nassar told Davis to remove her shirt and bra and used his hands and mouth on her breasts.
During Davis’ second appointment with Nassar, which Nassar also allegedly filmed, he gave Davis a crushed-up pill in a drink. “He would not tell her what he was giving her, but she was told and trusted that it was part of the treatment for her knee,” according to the lawsuit.
Davis said she felt woozy and leaden, unable to move her arms. Nassar then raped her, the lawsuit alleges.
Davis said she later told her friends what had happened, as well as her coach Martha Ludwig. Ludwig then confronted Nassar, and took the video of Davis, according to the suit. But George Perles, who’s now Michigan State trustee, intervened: He allegedly forced Ludwig to return the video, resign, and sign a non-disclosure agreement.
Davis later realized she was pregnant but miscarried. When she went to the Michigan State Police department, they told her she had to report the incident to the athletic department since Davis was an athlete.
Davis then “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,” according to the lawsuit.
Davis’ scholarship was later taken away from her, the lawsuit alleges.
Cover image: Larry Nassar in the USA gymnastics during a press conference in the Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building Tuesday July 24, 2018. (Photo By Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)