State report finds no evidence that Perles covered up Nassar claim

The Detroit News
Former Michigan State head football coach George Perles

A state investigator's report into Michigan State University's handling of the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal found "no credible evidence" to support a lawsuit's claim that former trustee George Perles covered up an alleged rape by Nassar of a field hockey player in 1992.

The report, issued Friday by special independent counsel William Forsyth, harshly criticized MSU's overall response to the probe launched by the Michigan Attorney General's Office, saying officials "largely circled the wagons" and worked to protect the university's reputation rather than helping find the truth.

But the report said investigators found no information to corroborate allegations against Perles contained in a federal lawsuit filed in September by California resident Erika Davis. 

In her complaint, Davis alleged that she was 17 and seeking treatment for an injury when Nassar drugged her, raped her and filmed the assault, and that Perles, who was MSU's head football coach and athletic director in the early 1990s, intervened and covered it up when approached by Davis' coach, Martha Ludwig.

Merrily Dean Baker, MSU athletic director from 1992-95, said in September that she was confused by some of the timelines laid out in the lawsuit.

Baker, who succeeded Perles during the time frame of the incidents outlined in the complaint, said she did not hear about the case and did not know the coach who allegedly told the plaintiff to see Nassar.

Perles, 84, who stepped down as a trustee this month because of health issues, denied the suit's allegations against him in a statement issued by his lawyer.

Forsyth's report backed up Perles and debunked Davis' claims, saying investigators "found substantial evidence contradicting her claims concerning the supposed cover-up."

Read more:State investigator's report says MSU 'stonewalls' Nassar probe

The report said investigators interviewed Ludwig, who told them she didn't remember Davis, and found no evidence that Davis had filed a report with MSU police, as her suit claimed.

Ludwig told investigators she did not know Nassar and had only brief interactions with Perles about allowing the field hockey team to use a certain field for practice.

"More significantly, we confirmed that in 1992 Nassar was not affiliated with either the MSU Sports Medicine Clinic or USA Gymnastics," the report says. "In actuality, Nassar was still a medical school student in the spring of 1992."