A former Michigan State University field hockey player filed a federal lawsuit on Monday accusing former USA Gymnastics and MSU trainer Larry Nassar of drugging and raping her during a medical exam in 1992.
Erika Davis was a 17-year-old first-year student at MSU when she first began seeing Nassar for a knee injury in 1992, according to court documents obtained by HuffPost. During one appointment, Nassar “crushed up a pill” and made Davis drink it, assuring her it was for her injured knee. According to the lawsuit, Davis became drowsy and passed out.
“When she was less woozy a short time later, Plaintiff Erika witnessed Defendant Nassar raping her,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit says that prior to allegedly raping Davis, Nassar also subjected her to “inappropriate, nonconsensual sexual touching, abuse and assault” under the guise of medical treatment. Nassar filmed many of his sessions with Davis, telling her the video would be used for a medical study.
Nassar was a student at MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine during the time of the alleged rape and wasn’t hired full time by MSU until 1997.
The lawsuit was filed on Monday, the last day Nassar accusers were able to file claims with MSU as part of the university’s $500,000,000 settlement with over 300 survivors.
Davis eventually told her field hockey coach, Martha Ludwig, what had happened. Ludwig confronted Nassar in May of 1992. According to court documents, Ludwig demanded the video Nassar had of Davis and then complained to George Perles, MSU’s athletic director at the time. Perles currently sits on the school’s board of trustees.
Perles, who resigned as athletic director in 1992, “intervened,” and Ludwig’s complaint against Nassar was dropped. According to the suit, Perles forced Ludwig to return the video of Davis’ assault, resign and sign a nondisclosure agreement.
Perles, 84, did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment, and Ludwig was unable to be reached.
“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 suit states.
According to the lawsuit, Davis later became pregnant and had a miscarriage. Davis said that Nassar is the only person who could have been the father.
Davis’ attorney, Brian McKeen, did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
MSU spokesperson Emily Guerrant responded to the lawsuit in a Tuesday statement to HuffPost.
“We are deeply sorry for the abuses Larry Nassar has committed, and for the trauma experienced by all sexual assault survivors. 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,” she said.
“MSU is working diligently to create a campus community where all members feel safe to study and work free from the threat of sexual misconduct and relationship violence,” Guerrant continued. “At the same time, we want to make sure that when survivors of sexual assault or relationship violence come forward, they are treated with respect, listened to and that we provide the appropriate supports throughout the reporting process.”
In October of 1992, Davis, along with a few friends, reported the rape to the MSU police department but was told she had to report it to the athletic department since she was an athlete.
When Davis said she had reported it to the athletic department and nothing happened, an MSU detective “explicitly told them that he was powerless to investigate anything that takes place to the athletic department.” According to the suit, the sergeant told Davis that Perles is a “powerful man” and she should simply drop it.
Davis later lost her field hockey scholarship and currently suffers from anxiety and depression, including a suicide attempt a year after she says Nassar raped her. According to the lawsuit, Davis also avoided gynecological exams due to trauma. When she finally did undergo a real gynecological exam, she found out that she had been infected with the HPV virus at some point, which later caused cervical cancer.
“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,” the suit states.
Nassar is accused of sexually abusing more than 265 young women under the guise of medical treatment. He was sentenced to three concurrent prison sentences over the past year on child pornography and child sexual abuse charges. Nassar has appealed all three of his sentences, all of which have been denied.