Many of Robert Anderson’s malpractice complaints alleged sexual misconduct and invasive, medically unnecessary exams.
Robert Anderson, the late University of Michigan doctor accused of abusing dozens of former students and athletes, had been repeatedly sued for malpractice while he was still alive.
Many of the complaints levied against Anderson explicitly accused him of sexual abuse or assault. According to MLive.com, Anderson faced a medical malpractice claim in 1989. In it, a job applicant alleged they’d been groped at an interview.
Then, in 1995, Anderson was sued against for causing injury. That complaint, filed by a pseudonymous woman, recalled feelings of discomfort, violation and confusion after being subjected to a pre-employment physical exam.
The exam, says MLive.com, was required by Ann Arbor-based Allied Inc., which sent the woman to Anderson to check—somewhat paradoxically–whether she’d be able to carry out a receptionist’s duties. During the exam, Anderson allegedly fondled her breasts and performed unnecessary pelvic and rectal exams.
In other malpractice complaints, Anderson was sued for improper prescriptions and general misconduct.
The University of Michigan has asked that anyone who was mistreated by Anderson to come forward, regardless of when the abuse may have occurred.
And on Thursday, reports The Associated Press, the university issued an apology to “anyone who was harmed” by the doctor.
One former student, though, says the University of Michigan had ignored his abuse complaint. Gary Bailey told The A.P. that Anderson had “dropped his pants and asked him to fondle his genitals” during a medical exam in 1968 or 1969.
Bailey said he filled out a complaint form, which was submitted to Michigan’s University Health Service within a month.
“I never heard anything about it again,” Bailey, 72, said.
Bailey further told The Associated Press that the doctor “preyed a little bit on people who were gay […] because he sort of thought that they wouldn’t say anything because, you know, people were pretty closeted back then.”
John Manly—who served as an attorney for hundreds of former Michigan State University sports physician Larry Nassar—said his firm is already working with a dozen of Anderson’s victims. Most of his clients, Manly said, are ex-football players and wrestlers.
While many of Manly’s clients weren’t gay, they, too, were afraid of what it’d mean to go public.
“As men in their 30s up to their 60s, there is a real shame associated with this,” Manly said. “Most didn’t speak up because they were concerned he wouldn’t clear them to play. And if you’re not cleared by the doctor, you lose your athletic scholarship. He had tremendous control. These at the time boys and young men were subjected to this stuff knowing that if they said anything, they were fearful he would retaliate.”
Manly told The Associated Press he has concerns about the University of Michigan’s decision to set up a hotline, saying any reporting should be done through law enforcement or a neutral third party.
“My experience has been that’s much more about liability protection than helping the victims,” Manly said. “It’s really important that one of America’s greatest universities act like it and treat these people not as adversaries but as people that are injured and that deserve support. My fear is that it’s not happening.”