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The Former University’s Health Service Robert Anderson, M.D. Sexual Abuse Claims Involving Former UM Students
Several lawsuits named the University of Michigan (UM) in Ann Arbor as defendants in cases involving the late Doctor Robert E. Anderson, a former university health service physician, and campus sports doctor. Anderson faced accusations of sexually assaulting hundreds of student-athletes during his time at UM.
Between 1969 and 1980, the University of Michigan Health Service employed Doctor Anderson as a physician and its director. The Ann Arbor school then relocated the doctor to the athletics department, where he remained an athletic team physician until he retired in 2003.
The first official accusations against Dr. Anderson occurred in 2020, 12 years after he died in 2008. In recent months, many more UM alumni have come forward, making additional sexual misconduct allegations against Anderson, adding their names to the UM Dr. Anderson investigation.
February 2020—Official Announcement of Dr. Robert E. Anderson’s Sexual Abuse Allegations at Michigan State University
In February 2020, the University encouraged former UM students to use a compliance hotline to report any alleged abuse or assault incident involving Anderson. This announcement was the first time the public was alerted to allegations against Anderson.
In the same month, the Washtenaw County prosecutor’s office, serving Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Hudson Mills, York Charter Township, Manchester, Chelsea, Saline, Bridgewater, and other local communities, chose not to criminally charge Dr. Robert Anderson or UM.
The prosecutor’s office said that there was no possibility that they could prosecute the former UM doctor and failed to present a legal opinion on whether Anderson had committed a criminal offense.
An extensive police report revealed repeated sexual abuse cases involving Dr. Robert Anderson performing prolonged prostate and hernia routine medical examinations on male students. One report indicated that Anderson had performed unnecessary prostate medical exams on a student-athlete treated for a dislocated elbow.
Dozens of Complaint Hotline Calls
The University of Michigan’s hotline received dozens of reports in the first two days with allegations of sexual misconduct involving Anderson. One UM caller left a message saying that Doctor Robert Anderson was a “serial molester” who sexually molested him in 1971.
Police report information demonstrates that several university officials were aware of circulating rumors of the doctor’s misconduct while they were occurring.
However, the University’s law enforcement officers interviewed dozens of individuals interacting with Robert E. Anderson, including football team trainers and athletic department coaches, who did not speak negatively about the former practicing physician.
March 2020 – A Hundred More Call the Anderson Abuse Hotline
School officials received over a hundred more calls on the sexual abuse hotline providing information about UM and Dr. Anderson within the first few days of March 2020.
During the Associated Press AP frenzy of news reports, lawyers representing sexual abuse survivors spoke on behalf of their clients, including brave men who used to be football players or played for the National Hockey League.
The University Apologizes
On March 4, 2020, a former Michigan Attorney General filed the first federal Michigan sexual assault case involving Anderson. The attorney represented their client, a former UM wrestler, alleging that Doctor Robert Anderson had sexually assaulted their client on nearly three dozen occasions.
In multiple lawsuits, some of the attorneys representing former students, mostly men, asked Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to investigate alleged crimes involving the late university employee and UM.
Within the first week of March, additional sex abuse victims came forward. Some of Athletic Team Doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual assault survivors asked the University not to use the same playbook and strategy that Michigan State University used while investigating Nassar for his sex abuse scandals when working as the Michigan College’s longtime campus gynecologist.
By mid-March, a University of Michigan Regent announced that Dr. Robert Anderson had sexually assaulted him between 1963 and 1967 as a UM student.
The current Michigan Attorney General indicated to the associated press that the State would only investigate the allegations if the University of Michigan fully cooperated.
Freedom of Information Act
The Board of Regents and the University apologized to sexually abused survivors for the “pain caused by the failures of our beloved University.” They shared their gratitude to alumni members for holding the university responsible for past unacceptable behavior.
Local news stations obtained additional police reports under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), indicating that the Public School System might have employed the late Dr. Anderson. However, there are conflicting reports without sufficient evidence.
One attorney, speaking with the Associated Press about the comparison between the Nassar scandal and the University of Michigan Dr. Anderson lawsuits, says she believes that this case might involve “thousands of men” compared to the hundreds of women harmed by Larry Nassar.
By the end of March, law enforcement identified that a former athletic trainer who serves as the current Athletic Department’s Assistant Athletic Director told a player that he should “get used to” suffering sexual abuse by Anderson.
Documents show that the Michigan Athletic Director spoke of Dr. Robert Anderson as a “personal friend” and “very credible doctor.”
Early Spring 2020 – Initial Court Rulings
By early April, the University sent letters to nearly 7000 former student-athletes asking for information concerning the late doctor’s inappropriate sexual behavior. By late April, forty former students allegedly sexually abused by Dr. Robert Anderson stated they were required to see the Michigan physician due to their athletic scholarship, making them particularly vulnerable.
At the end of April, the University of Michigan announced the development of an out-of-court reconciliation process. The decision resolved multiple lawsuits and provided justice faster to Robert E. Anderson’s sexually abused victims, and allowed them more certainty when being able to settle claims rather than filing a lawsuit.
By early May, the University admitted that the doctor had sexually molested a student but argued that Anderson’s sexual abuse case in federal court should be dismissed because it was not filed before legal time limits had expired. By mid-June, the University sent out another 300,000 letters to alumni athletes asking for more information concerning Anderson’s sexually abusive behavior.
District Court Ruling
Within a week, Judge Victoria Roberts from the US District Court ruled that the University could not reach out to any alumni or others who could become potential plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit. This ruling would likely restrict communication with every former UM student on campus during the late doctor’s tenure.
By the end of June 2020, the federal judge barred any communication between the University and any potential members involved in a Robert Anderson class-action lawsuit.
By mid-July, University of Michigan Dr. Anderson’s first female alleged sexual abuse survivor stated that he was the “coldest, meanest psychopath I’ve ever met.” The former University of Michigan student said that the doctor performed a medical exam, recommending that she cut down her breast size.
Early Fall 2020 – The University of Michigan Long Knew of Doctor Robert E Anderson’s Sexual Behavior
In October 2020, the Detroit News announced they had conducted a comprehensive review of the late doctor’s personnel file. The file included his former boss’s deposition revealing that the University knew of Anderson’s inappropriate relationship with students and sexual misconduct at least twice during his previous tenure.
One report reveals that in 1979, UM was made aware of allegations of Anderson’s behavior. However, the school allowed the doctor to continue treating University students.
A second allegation, documented in 1980, revealed that the University regularly gave the doctor chances to stop his inappropriate behavior while providing medical care to students as an Athletic Department team physician to multiple athletic teams.
The Road to Compensation
As early as May 2020, UM admitted the sexual assaults by Doctor Anderson were egregious and took steps to provide a financial settlement to his sexual abuse survivors. However, school officials believe that the lawsuits should be dismissed while the University works to compensate those who consistently suffered at the hands of the sexually abusing doctor.
University spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen said in April 2020 that the “university has confidence in the independent investigation now underway by the WilmerHale law firm.” This firm has the deep expertise to conduct a thorough and unflinching review of the facts—wherever they may lead.”
By late April 2020, the University was aware of over 250 individual complaints concerning Anderson’s abusive nature. By early 2021, that number had risen to well over 400. At least six women have made complaints, which could mean several future claims ahead, and no end in sight for this long and challenging journey.
By January 2022, a proposed agreement was in place with a financial settlement of $460 million to resolve all survivor claims. It was reported to the Associated Press that such a settlement wouldn’t bring closure to the matter.
Hire a Sexual Assault Injury Lawyer
Are you or a loved one a victim of sexual abuse by the University of Michigan’s Dr. Anderson or another predator? Contact our sexual abuse injury lawyers at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights and legal options in filing your Robert Anderson, M.D. sex abuse claim.
Our sexual molestation attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can provide advice and counsel to file and resolve a personal injury claim for maximum compensation. We can file a lawsuit against the doctor’s estate, University Health Service, the University of Michigan, school officials, teachers, coaches, and others.
Our law firm does not charge legal fees until the compensation case is successfully resolved. All information you and your loved ones share with our law firm will remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship.