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Lawsuits & Litigation

Former University of Michigan Athletes Sue School, Say Administration Covered for Predatory Physician

— March 6, 2020

The university’s late sports medicine physician, Robert Anderson, allegedly began preying upon student-athletes and gay community members in the late 1970s.

Four former University of Michigan athletes are suing their alma mater over alleged sexual abuse by the school’s late sports medicine physician, Robert Anderson.

According to, the allegations were brought by two former football players, a former wrestler and former ice hockey player. The suit was filed Thursday by The Mike Cox Law Firm in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

The complaint states that each plaintiff was abused in a similar fashion: when Anderson performed their required physical examinations, he groped their genitals, buttocks and anus.

Each athlete named in the suit attended the University of Michigan in the 1980s.

Another, similar lawsuit was lodged on behalf of a lone wrestler earlier this week. It was also filed by The Mike Cox Lawsuit.

The Detroit Free Press notes that, unlike past lawsuits concerning Anderson, these two are the first to name the university, along with its Board of Regents, as defendants. The latter complaint alleges that “UM placed vulnerable student athletes, like plaintiff, in Anderson’s care despite knowing he was a sexual predator.”

The case has drawn parallels with Michigan State, where pedophile doctor Larry Nassar practiced unabated for nearly two decades. Image of the MSU Administration Building by Ryan J. Farrick.

“UM has been engaging in a cover-up for 40 years and for the past 18 months under President [Mark] Schlissel,” said Cox, whose firm is based in the Detroit suburb of Livonia. “It’s a massive cover-up. I’m a UM grad, and we are supposed to be the leaders and the best. In this case, we were worse than the people we like to look down our nose at.”

Cox says the wrestler’s suit is the first of nearly a dozen expected to be filed against the university.

Cox and his clients, adds the Free Press, made a decision to sue after the attorney had an “unproductive” meeting with the University of Michigan’s general counsel. Asked by the Detroit Free Press whether the Anderson scandal might yield the same sort of massive settlement agreed to by Michigan State University in the aftermath of the Larry Nassar allegations, Cox said the school is going to pay, one way or another.

“If it doesn’t, we are going to pound Michigan,” he said. “We will drag the truth out of them and bare it to the public.”

Cox also suggested that what the University of Michigan has done with Anderson is worse than MSU and Nassar.

Nassar, a former Michigan State sports medicine physician who worked with USA Gymnastics, was accused of molesting more than 500 under-age girls and young women. He was convicted on multiple sexual assault and child predation charges and is expected to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

David Shea, of the Shea Law Firm in Southfield, MI, told the Detroit Free Press that Anderson’s employment timeline needs to be explained.

“We’ve got to get to the bottom of how a sexual predator was demoted by the university in the 1980s from head of the University Health Service to become the sole physician for the athletic department,” Shea said. “UM knew that this doctor was abusing his patients, and they chose instead of terminating him to foist him on the athletic department and require its student-athletes to see him, and we need to get to the bottom of that.

“Right now, U of M is not giving any answers on that issue,” Shea said.

The lone wrestler’s lawsuit notes that, along with preying on student-athletes, Anderson also allegedly assaulted gay students.

“All the assaults could have been prevented if UM had acted on and/or investigated complaints against Anderson that UM had notice of as early as 1968,” the lawsuit states. “All of the assaults on plaintiff could have been prevented if UM had terminated Anderson’s employment in 1979 or 1980.”


Former University of Michigan football, wrestling, hockey athletes file lawsuits claiming sexual assault

University of Michigan faces first lawsuit alleging sex abuse by doctor

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