But a local Michigan attorney suggested the university’s investigation is nothing but “window dressing.”
The University of Michigan will contact an estimated 6,800 former student-athletes as part of a misconduct investigation into the school’s late athletics physician, Robert E. Anderson.
Anderson, as LegalReader reported last month, is suspected of sexually assaulting hundreds of former students and student-athletes. Like former Michigan State University sports physician Larry Nassar, Anderson tried to conceal his crimes under the guise of legitimate medical practice.
However, Anderson was known not only for his unorthodox methods but frequently making inappropriate and suggestive comments.
In total, Anderson worked with the university for nearly 24 years. According to the Detroit Free Press, the doctor acquired a predatory reputation in the 1960s. At the height of the Vietnam War, Anderson allegedly offered to write letters stating certain male patients were gay, which would exempt them from the draft. In return, they’d have to engage in sexual acts with him.
Anderson worked with the university from the 1960s through the early 2000s. He retired in 2003, then passed away five years later. For many former student-athletes, Anderson was a critically important point of contact—his refusal to approve a physical exam, or his decision to declare an athlete unfit, could ruin an individual’s sports aspirations.
To cover the wide temporal scope of Anderson’s career, the University of Michigan is seeking information from any student-athletes who they suspect may have interacted with him. The school is looking at a timespan ranging between the mid-1960s and early 2000s.
Michigan Athletics, notes The Associated Press, will send e-mails to 4,400 former student athletes. The e-mails will be complemented by close to 6,800 physical letters, to be sent through the U.S. Postal Service.
“WilmerHale will issue a public report with a full accounting of Anderson’s conduct and any institutional failings that may have allowed him to harm others,” says the letter, which was signed by Athletics Director Warde Manuel. “I am writing to you as a former student-athlete and ask you to come forward to speak to WilmerHale.”
Michigan, adds The A.P., announced its investigation into Anderson earlier this year. Since February, the school has received 168 “unique” complaints against the late physician—most delivered to a hotline set up for the purpose.
But Livonia, Michigan-based attorney Mike Cox, who’s representing three dozen sexual assault victims in a suit against the university, says the school’s letter and information-gathering campaign is “window dressing.”
“I view the WilmerHale investigation as window dressing,” Cox said, “and not something that is going to move the ball for any of the victims.”