One of the university’s best-known football coaches allegedly shrugged off reports of sexual assault, as did other university employees and administrators.
A recent report has revealed that University of Michigan administrators knew about the late Dr. Robert Anderson’s predation of student athletes since the physician began his employment at the school in the 1970s, but never took any disciplinary action against him.
Anderson, as LegalReader.com has reported before, allegedly sexually assaulted male athletes during physical exams and check-ups. Numerous lawsuits are now pending against the school, alleging that it had ample time to remove and report Dr. Anderson but never did.
According to The Detroit Free Press, the report was commissioned by the University of Michigan and fulfilled by the law firm WilmerHale.
“A senior University administrator was told about Dr. Anderson’s misconduct several times between 1978 or 1979 and 1981 but did not take appropriate action,” WilmerHale wrote in a Tuesday release “Concerning information was also shared with other University personnel. Although the information these individuals received varied in directness and specificity, Dr. Anderson’s misconduct may have been detected earlier and brought to an end if they had considered, understood, investigated, or elevated what they heard.”
The report states that the university’s “legendary” football coach, Bo Schembechler, had also been informed of the abuse.
In one instance, a member of the football team in the late 1970s asked Schembechler, “What’s up with the finger in the butt treatment by Dr. Anderson?”
Schembechler, in response, told the athlete to “toughen up.”
While several former University of Michigan employees say that Schembechler did know of Anderson’s misconduct—and would not have tolerated it if he did—at least four student athletes said they had reported concerns to the coach.
All of them claim their concerns were brushed off. In some instances, Anderson allegedly encouraged athletes to report the assaults, while in others, he said he would investigate himself.
But there is no record of Schembechler ever launching an independent investigation or taking a complaint to local police.
WilmerHale, notes the Detroit Free Press, collected information from 800 people, of whom 300 participated in interviews.
“The trauma that Dr. Anderson’s misconduct caused persists to this day. The experiences that many of Dr. Anderson’s patients relayed to us were widely consistent, containing similar details and key elements,” the firm’s report said. “We have no doubt based on the evidence available to us, including the first-hand accounts of his patients, that Dr. Anderson engaged in a pervasive, decades-long, destructive pattern of sexual misconduct.”
The University of Michigan has since released a statement, pledging to continue to work with investigators and sexual assault victims.
“Today, we received WilmerHale’s 240-page report at the same time it was released publicly. The report is available on the U-M Board of Regents website,” the school wrote. “We will thoughtfully and diligently review and assess the report’s findings, conclusions, and recommendations; and we will work to regain the trust of survivors and to assure that we foster a safe environment for our students, our employees, and our community.”