Lawyer: Perles denies claim of Nassar cover-up

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

 Michigan State University Trustee George Perles denies the allegations in a lawsuit that accuses him of covering up a rape allegation against Larry Nassar in 1992, his lawyer said Friday.

California resident Erika Davis alleged in a lawsuit filed last week that Nassar videotaped himself in 1992 raping her when she was a 17-year-old field hockey player. The suit also alleges that when her MSU coach complained about it, Perles intervened and covered it up.

Former Michigan State head football coach George Perles

Perles, 84, a former MSU head football coach who was athletic director from 1990 to 1992, was not named as a defendant in the suit.

When the suit was filed, Perles did not address its claims but his son denied the allegations. On Sept. 14, Perles hired a Detroit lawyer, Patrick Hickey, who said he would be meeting with Perles this week.

Hickey issued a one-paragraph statement on Friday.

"Mr. Perles adamantly denies the allegations made about him in the civil complaint recently filed by Erika Davis," Hickey said.  "Although he is not a party to the lawsuit, Mr. Perles looks forward to the allegations about him being disproven through the course of the civil action."

Jordan Merson, the New York-based lawyer representing Davis, was not immediately available for comment Friday. 

Nassar is essentially serving a life sentence after admitting to sexually assaulting young women with his fingers while an MSU and USA Gymnastics sports doctor. Davis' lawsuit is the first to allege that Nassar committed rape through intercourse. 

The lawsuit was filed as the deadline closed for Nassar accusers to file claims as part of MSU's $500 million settlement with 332 women who sued the university, alleging it failed to protect them. 

The complaint caused a stir in the MSU community, with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer calling for Perles and the rest of the board to step down.

MSU's James Madison College Student Senate passed a resolution calling for Perles' resignation, while the Associated Students of Michigan State University has been discussing the issue. 

Perles was elected to the Board of Trustees in 2007 and 2014, according to MSU. His current term expires Jan. 1, 2023.