A federal lawsuit filed Thursday alleges that a University of Michigan assistant athletic director knew about — and laughed about — abuse claims against former team physician Robert Anderson.
Paul Schmidt is the fifth university representative to be accused of knowing about Anderson's behavior, but the first who is currently employed by Michigan, according to The Detroit News.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Detroit by a former football player who said he received a required physical examination from Anderson as a freshman in the 1980s. During the appointment, the man alleges, the doctor groped his penis and testicles "for an inordinately long period of time." Afterward, he ran into Schmidt, then a football trainer, according to the lawsuit.
"[Schmidt] laughed and told Plaintiff, 'Get used to that' — which Plaintiff understood as referring to Dr. Anderson’s putative medical treatment," according to the lawsuit.
Former Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, who is representing the former football player, said there was a group of trainers present, and they all laughed too.
"It was so apparent from the situation [that] Schmidt knew what had happened," said Cox, who has filed 26 other lawsuits against the University of Michigan and its Board of Regents with Southfield-based Shea Law Firm, as reported by The Detroit News.
Anderson, a former University Health Service director and Wolverines team physician, worked for the university from 1968 to 2003. He died in 2008.
The former football player saw Anderson 12 times during his four years on the football team for sports-related injuries that involved his wrist, shoulder, neck and other body parts, in addition to ailments such as a common cold, according to the lawsuit.
"On every one of these 12 visits Dr. Anderson groped, fondled or cupped, Plaintiff’s penis and testicles for an excessively long time," according to the lawsuit. "During these incidents of inappropriate genital fondling, Dr. Anderson would also put his face within inches of Plaintiff’s penis and testicles. During one of the visits Dr. Anderson also digitally penetrated Plaintiff’s anus."
"The assault 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 said. "The assault on Plaintiff could have been prevented if UM had warned Plaintiff or properly supervised Anderson or trained Athletic Department supervisors such as Plaintiff’s coaches and trainers. But UM failed to do any of these things that would have prevented Plaintiff’s sexual abuse."
The former football player feared losing his scholarship if he questioned Anderson, according to the lawsuit.
Schmidt joins a growing list of UM representatives who were reportedly alerted about Anderson, who is accused by scores of men of behavior ranging from masturbation to fondling to unnecessary anal examinations, according to men who have spoken publicly or filed lawsuits, as reported by The Detroit News. Others who allegedly were told of allegations against Anderson include former Michigan athletic director Don Canham, who is deceased; former head wrestling coach Bill Johannesen, who has denied knowing of any misconduct by Anderson; former head track head coach Jack Harvey and former assistant track coach Ron Warhurst.
In an email, Schmidt said he was unaware of allegations against Anderson. "As I shared with the police and the investigators, I had no knowledge of alleged assaults and have no recollection of the event described," he said.
UM spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the university will carefully review the complaint. "We also will share this with the independent investigators in this matter to examine all the facts," Fitzgerald said.