University of Michigan doctor scandal: Super Bowl champion athletes expose new allegations of sexual abuse

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Dr Robert Anderson ran the school’s university health department before becoming the physician for the wrestling, football, hockey and track teams. He worked at UM from 1968 to 2003, before dying in 2008.

While at school, he allegedly abused hundreds of students, most of them young men, according to lawyer Parker Stinar. Former athletes claim Anderson would examine their genitals for unrelated issues and injuries.

“What happened to me in this room with Dr. Anderson I have no words for,” former San Francisco 49er security Dwight Hicks said. “I felt like I had to suck. I’m gonna be a Michigan man. Maybe that’s part of it. ”

Contacted for comment, UM spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald reiterated the university’s earlier conviction for sexual misconduct and noted that the school had hired a law firm – previously asked to investigate the allegations sexual misconduct against a former provost – to launch an independent investigation. A pending lawsuit has barred him from sharing further, he said, directing CNN to a website with academic statements and information about the allegations.

“We have great admiration for all of the former athletes and students of UM who courageously step forward to share their stories,” Fitzgerald said in his email.CNN tried unsuccessfully to reach those close to Anderson, but his children told the Detroit News earlier this year that they did not believe the charges. Son Kurt Anderson said, “It’s just not him,” and recalled grateful patients who expressed their love for his father at the 2008 funeral.

“It’s ridiculous,” her daughter Jill Anderson told the newspaper. “My father was a beloved doctor at UM for so many years. He was highly respected. Everyone said he treated them with the utmost integrity and care. “

Limitation period has expired, prosecutor said

Many students have refrained from bringing charges against Anderson out of “shame, embarrassment and anger,” said Airron Richardson, former Wolverines wrestling co-captain and 2000 Olympic team alternate. as a physician, I am keenly aware of how Anderson violated his patients’ trust and used medicine as a shield. ”

He added that Anderson “strayed from what was medically appropriate or necessary with his exams. “

Following a lawsuit against the university and its board of trustees, former athletes will enter mediation with the university this fall, Stinar said. According to the lawyer, the university was aware of the abuse, but did not intervene.

“I’m still proud of this college,” Hicks said heartbreakingly, noting that his daughter and brother were also graduates from college. “It means a lot to our family because I thought we were family, but family disappoints you sometimes. ”

Campus police opened an investigation into Anderson in July 2018 after a former athlete wrote to athletic director Warde Manuel about abuse suffered in the 1970s. Investigators identified former patients who spoke of the misconduct Anderson’s alleged and unnecessary exams – most of them in the 1970s, although one account is from the 1990s, the university said.

“The allegations that have been reported are worrying and very serious,” said university president Mark Schlissel. “We quickly opened a police investigation and fully cooperated with the prosecutor’s office. ”

The allegations are similar to those against Larry Nassar of Michigan State University and Richard Strauss of Ohio State University – doctors who used their positions of trust to abuse students and athletes. The cases also allege that powerful institutions ignored or dismissed complaints about the misconduct.

The statute of limitations for the allegations has passed so no criminal charges can be laid, the Washtenaw County District Attorney’s Office said in February.

Former athletes who have come forward

Lawyer Michael Wright represents other former student-athletes who claim to have been abused by Anderson. Client – Chuck Christian, a tight butt for Wolverines from 1977 to 1981 – says he was so traumatized by Anderson’s unnecessary digital prostate exams that he refused to go to a doctor for decades , whatever its condition. He now has stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

The problem in Michigan was systemic, Wright told CNN. After representing 150 Ohio state athletes in their lawsuit involving Strauss, he finds the Michigan case “very strangely similar”.

Chuck Christian alleges the abuse kept him away from doctors for years after graduating in 1981.

At a press conference in February, three former wrestlers, including 2008 Olympian Andy Hrovat, shared stories of alleged abuse. Tad Deluca, a Michigan wrestler from 1972 to 1976, recalled having his penis, hernia and prostate exams for a dislocated elbow, he said.

The students knew the team doctor as “Dr Drop Your Drawers Anderson”. Deluca complained to his trainer, he said, and lost his purse.

Hrovat, a 2002 All-American graduate, recalled that his teammates warned him that exams with Anderson “were going to get weird.”

“Having to walk into a room knowing that you are going to meet this is right, to me, horrible,” Hrovat said. “That’s why I always thought it was wrong. “

CNN’s Eric Levenson contributed to this report.

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