Survivors of alleged sexual abuse at the hands of a former University of Michigan athletics’ doctor called for an investigation by the state’s attorney general at a news conference Wednesday into school employees who may have known of the abuse and allegedly did nothing.
Dr. Robert Anderson, who worked at the university from 1966 to 2003, allegedly sexually assaulted hundreds of students, including a two-time Super Bowl champion and former world-class wrestler.
The University of Michigan Board of Regents president has apologized for Anderson’s abuse after an investigation by an outside law firm.
“We condemn and apologize for the tragic misconduct of the late Dr. Robert Anderson, who left the University 17 years ago and died 13 years ago. We are committed to resolving their claims and to continuing the court-guided confidential mediation process,” President Mark Schlissel said in an earlier statement.
That report largely focused on Anderson’s actions, though it did name some employees who received complaints of the abuse at the time they occurred, and who allegedly failed to act.
“(T)he University failed to investigate persistent and widespread rumors about Dr. Anderson. We found that at least some personnel in UHS (University Health Services) and the Athletic Department heard or were aware of jokes, banter, and innuendo about Dr. Anderson’s conduct with patients, but they did not recognize such comments as cause for concern,” according to the report.
The investigation, which began in March 2020, details decades’ worth of allegations that Anderson sexually assaulted and abused at least several hundred patients, and that the university failed to act on reports it received about his conduct, CNN reported.
Those who spoke during the news conference called for an investigation by the Michigan attorney general’s office into Anderson’s abuse.
“We will no longer be anonymous. We will no longer be faceless. We will no longer be silenced,” speaker John Vaughn said. “What the University of Michigan did, did not kill me. It was a hellish experience, but I am alive.”
Attorney Parker Stinar, who represents the victims who spoke during the news conference, said the report failed to sufficiently investigate all employees who may have known of the abuse, including any who may be living.
“It’s not just about Robert Anderson, who’s a sick sexual predator. It’s about the institution that allowed his behavior,” Stinar told CNN.
The victims who spoke on Wednesday, who were students at the time of the abuse, alleged that celebrated late University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler and others either knew of the abuse or failed to act appropriately.
Coaches would allegedly threaten players with a physical exam by Anderson if they were not working hard enough, one former athlete previously told CNN.
The news conference took place the day before a planned University of Michigan Board of Regents meeting set for Thursday.
The men, at least one in his 60s, alleged the doctor examined their genitalia and gave full physical exams for unrelated problems such as migraines.
“The university is currently engaged in a confidential, court-supervised mediation process with Anderson survivors who have filed suit against U-M,” the university said in a public statement after the report was released in May.
Last week, the son of Schembechler alleged that he was abused by Anderson as a child. Matt Schembechler said that he told his father about it at the time, who reacted violently and did not intervene in the abuse.
Family members of Bo Schembechler responded to the allegations against him, saying “in our steadfast opinion, Bo was not aware of such conduct and assumed that any procedures were medically appropriate.”