Physician Abuse Allegations Hit University of Michigan | Athletic Business

Physician Abuse Allegations Hit University of Michigan

University of Michigan officials announced Wednesday they had received and are investigating reports of "sexual misconduct and unnecessary medical exams" from former patients of now-deceased team physician Robert Anderson, most of them from the 1970s but at least one from as recent as the 1990s.

As reported by The Detroit News, the university said its police department began investigating allegations in July 2018 and hired an outside law firm to conduct an independent inquiry.

Anderson, who died in 2008, served as University Health Service director and team physician from 1968 until his retirement in 2003, working with the football program through 25 bowl game appearances under four coaches, including Bo Schembechler and Lloyd Carr. He becomes at least the fourth team physician — and third employed by a Big Ten Conference school — to be accused of sexual misconduct in recent years.

Michigan alum sent school officials an essay last August titled "My Michigan Me-too Moment, 1971." In it, former Detroit resident Robert Julian Stone, who now resides in Palm Springs, Calif., accused Anderson of sexually assaulting him nearly 50 years ago. After Stone sent his written account to two top UM officials, he spoke with university police and filed a report alleging that Anderson dropped his pants during a medical exam, grabbed Stone’s hand and used it to fondle the doctor’s genitals.

Stone, who is gay, said he is coming forward for many reasons, including a notion that he said was dispelled after he reported Anderson to Michigan and learned more allegations had been made about the doctor. “When I first wrote to the university, I thought, ‘Well, Dr. Anderson was a closeted gay man,’ and I had some compassion for a man at that time in that position,” Stone told The Detroit News. “Now I realize he wasn't a closeted gay man. He was a sexual predator, and that's … a criminal thing.”

According to The Detroit News, Stone said he learned from university officials that the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office was reviewing his case, along with "many other victims" who have lodged similar claims. He also said a university police detective told him the university became aware of allegations against Anderson years ago, then moved him from his post at UM Student Health Services to become the team physician for UM athletes.

Washtenaw County chief assistant prosecutor Steven Hiller confirmed that the office received a report of an investigation conducted by the University of Michigan police department containing "allegations of criminal wrongdoing" by Anderson. Hiller said that a formal request for criminal prosecution did not accompany the report. Even so, the supervisor of the prosecutor's office’s charging function reviewed the report to determine if the possibility of criminal prosecution existed. 

"Because Dr. Anderson is deceased, no criminal prosecution of him would be possible regardless of whether the facts set for the report supported such an action," Hiller said in an email. "Furthermore, the ability to prosecute any ancillary offenses that may have been committed by others would have been extinguished by the statute of limitations decades ago. Therefore, this office’s review of the report has concluded."

"The allegations that were reported are disturbing and very serious," University of Michigan president Mark Schlissel said in a statement. "We promptly began a police investigation and cooperated fully with the prosecutor's office."

Michigan issued a press release Wednesday, indicating that a hotline had been set up to gather information from additional potential victims. “I want to urge any former student-athlete with information they are willing to share confidentially to come forward,” athletic director Warde Manuel said in the release. “The health and safety of our student-athletes is our highest priority.”

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