MSU Trustee George Perles resigns from board effective immediately

Posted at 10:52 AM, Nov 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-29 12:35:11-05

Michigan State University trustee George Perles has resigned from the board of trustees, effective immediately.

The resignation comes more than two months after a former student athlete for the Spartans alleged she was drugged, raped and impregnated by Larry Nassar in 1992, and that Perles, who was the athletic director at the time, helped cover it up.

According to his resignation letter, Perles said he resigned after consulting his family and medical advisers.

It has been no secret that I have been living with a number of health challenges. Despite the limitations, I continued to support the university and remained focused on fulfilling my commitments as a Trustee," Perles wrote. " As this year comes to a close, so begins a time of reflection. At age 84, my mobility is compromised and I live with the effects of Parkinson's every day. The ramifications of my health issues continue to grow. I have been blessed with a wife who has sacrificed much to tend to my needs and to
provide constant care."

“I have known George for many years and his dedication to the university is beyond compare,” Chairman Brian Breslin said. “He cares deeply about the people here and has worked selflessly over the years — whether that was as a player, coach, athletic director or board member — to push MSU to its greatest potential.”

Gov. Rick Snyder has been notified of the resignation and will make an appointment to the board in the near future.

Lawsuit alleges Perles covered up Nassar rape

According to the lawsuit filed in September, Erika Davis, who is the named plaintiff, was 17 years old and playing field hockey under a scholarship at Michigan State.

The lawsuit states that she injured her knee in 1992, and field hockey coach Martha Ludwig recommended she make an appointment with Nassar, who Ludwig knew through a mutual friend.

Davis met Nassar in the spring of 1992, according to the lawsuit, and during her initial appointment, the lawsuit alleges Nassar gave her a breast examination while a cameraman filmed. He then asked her to come back for a "full female exam" in a week, the court filing reads. The exam was part of a study on flexibility through the university's College of Osteopathic Medicine, according to the lawsuit, and that despite needing to be 18 to consent to the study, her coach would be able to consent for her since she was 17.

According to the lawsuit, Nassar gave Davis a crushed up pill during their second appointment, which caused Davis to become tired, unable to move her arms and not keep her eyelids open.

"When she was less woozy a short time later, Plaintiff Erika witnessed Defendant Nassar raping her," the lawsuit said.

The suit goes on to say that Davis was unable to move and that Nassar continued raping her, before getting dressed and saying he would see her in two months.

According to the lawsuit, Davis told her coach what happened in May 1992, and the coach allegedly confronted Nassar and received the video of Davis' appointment with him. Then, the lawsuit states that the coach told Perles, who "intervened and the charges were dropped against the coach, but she was forced to return the video,resign and sign a non-disclosure agreement. Upon information and belief, Coach Martha made and retained a copy of the videotape," the lawsuit reads.

The filing states that later that summer, Davis had not gotten her period and told her "dorm mom," who gave her a pregnancy test which came back positive.

"The only person who could have caused her to be pregnant was Defendant Nassar," the lawsuit reads.

According to the filing, the dorm mom told Davis she should go to the police department, and after suffering a miscarriage, she went to the Michigan State University Police Department in October 1992.

"The police told them that since she was an athlete, she had to report it to the athletic department. 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," the lawsuit states. "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. Plaintiff Erika’s friends complained that this was 'wrong' and 'had to be illegal.' The Sergeant told them that his hands were tied and to leave the station."

Perles resigned from his role as athletic director in 1992, but remained as head football coach until 1994. He is now a member of the Michigan State Board of Trustees.

“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 reads. “Defendant Michigan State University could have stopped Defendant Nassar’s conduct back in 1992, but did not.

“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," it continues.

A statement from Michigan State University Spokesperson Emily Guerrant said: 

“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. 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. 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.”