In July 2018, police began an investigation into University of Michigan Health Service director and team physician, Dr. Robert E. Anderson, after a former student-athlete wrote to athletic director Warde Manuel about being repeatedly sexually abused by Anderson during medical exams in the early 1970s. The student was dismissed, kicked off his wrestling team and stripped of his financial aid when he tried to report Robert Anderson’s misconduct.
“I spoke up by letter in July of 1975 and it was ignored and denigrated by the University of Michigan,” Tad Deluca, former University of Michigan wrestlers, told media. “I spoke up again by letter in 2018 after hearing an NPR story about the MSU gymnasts…”
The school says it is conducting an independent investigation into the claims, which date as far back as the 1960s. U-M admitted that some campus employees knew of allegations made against Anderson even before the 2018 complaint. The accused, known by students as ‘Dr. Drop Your Drawers’ Anderson, worked at U-M for more than three decades from 1968 until his retirement in 2003. He died in 2008.
In February 2020, U-M established a hotline for students, and by the end of April, 257 additional complaints involving Anderson had been made.
In March 2020, U-M announced it was terminating the firm it hired to conduct the investigation after school officials learned that the firm also represented notorious accused sexual predators Roman Polanski and Jeffrey Epstein.
Police records also show that U-M officials were warned more than forty years ago that Anderson was fondling patients during medical exams, and pressured him to step down as Health Service director. According to detectives, dozens of people have described in detail Anderson’s alleged sexual misconduct and unnecessary medical exams. Most incidents occurred in the 1970s, but at least one which was reported, happened in the 1990s.
In March 2020, University of Michigan Board of Regents Chair Ron Weiser, one of the school’s highest-ranking elected officials said he was also abused by Anderson. Another regent said he heard from three family members who were also abused by Robert Anderson.
In a news release, Ron Weiser and President Mark Schlissel said that U-M is creating a plan to bypass court in the hopes to settle lawsuits against Anderson as an effort to provide “more certain, faster relief” and to ensure the privacy of those victims who have come forward. Such a fund would be an alternative to litigation and resolve cases in a faster, more efficient manner.
In 2018, Michigan legislators passed an extension to the state’s archaic statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. The new law raised the date by which a person must file a lawsuit to age 28, which is still far short of 52, the age that experts says is typically when victims of sexual abuse typically report their abuse.
The new law also created a 90 day window for anyone sexually abused by a medical professional to file a lawsuit against the responsible, a far shorter and more specific window than any passed anywhere else in the country. No other window has been measured in ‘days’ instead of ‘years.’ The window is largely thought to have been included to pave the way for the filing of hundreds of claims by former USA Gymnastics team doctor and Michigan State University employee, Dr. Larry Nassar. Michigan State University ultimately settled 332 claims for $500 million.
However, the new law does absolutely nothing to help the hundreds of alleged victims of Dr. Robert Anderson, who were mostly young adults when they were sexually abused. For those who were under 18 at the time of their abuse, the new law only really helps those who are still under age 28. Therefore, while U-M is touting this alternative fund as a means of resolving cases faster and simpler than lawsuits, the reality is that very few cases would be viable in Michigan’s courts due to the still-archaic statute of limitations in effect for adult survivors of sexual abuse. This needs to change. Perhaps the resolution of hundreds more lawsuits involving a trusted doctor – this time, Dr. Robert Anderson – at a trusted Michigan university will spur even more legislative change.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse. If you or a loved one was sexually abused, raped or sexually molested by Dr. Robert Anderson, or another trusted professional such as a principal, teacher or any other school employee, contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation now.