Ex-Wrestler Files First Lawsuit in Michigan Abuse Case

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The first of an anticipated 11 lawsuits has been filed in federal court against the University of Michigan over its handling of alleged claims that a now-deceased team physician sexually abused students and student-athletes.

As reported by The Associated Press, the alleged victim wrestled on scholarship for the Wolverines from 1984 through 1989. According to the lawsuit, the alleged victim sought Robert Anderson's medical attention dozens of times, at which point Anderson "sexual assaulted, abused, and molested Plaintiff, by non-consensual digital anal penetration and excessive genital fondling and manipulation under the guise of medical treatment."

"Anderson assaulted and abused Plaintiff on at least 35 occasions, or 70 total acts of nonconsensual anal penetration and genital fondling, between 1984 and 1989 when Plaintiff was between the ages of 17 and 22 on UM’s campus," the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit alleges that the university was warned several times, and as far back as 1968, that Anderson was a predator. The lawsuit says that Gary Bailey, an undergraduate at the time, filed a written complaint with the university alleging Anderson had him drop his pants and felt his genitals. The lawsuit also says no one followed up on his allegation against Anderson, and that the university was again warned in 1975 and in 1979. That year, U of M acknowledged that Anderson was a predator, according to the lawsuit, but determined that he would be demoted from director of University Health Service to the athletic department – where he worked as a team physician until 2003. He died in 2008.

"The demotion gave Anderson free reign to abuse hundreds of male athletes like the Plaintiff with impunity," the lawsuit states. "Anderson treated members of the wrestling, football, and hockey teams for every medical ailment, complaint, and injury as their UM-assigned internist. He served as their first medical point of contact no matter the injury or ailment at issue, including everything from a cold to the flu to broken bones."

An investigation began in July 2018, when a former student-athlete wrote to athletic director Warde Manual to detail abuse during medical exams by Anderson in the early 1970s, the university says.

When asked for comment on the lawsuit, a spokesperson for the school issued the following statement:

"We can't comment other than to deeply apologize for the harm caused by Robert E. Anderson. We recognize the enormous strength and courage it takes for survivors to come forward and share their stories.

"The university continues to encourage those who have been harmed by Robert E. Anderson or who have evidence of his misconduct, to come forward. It’s important that the University of Michigan hear your voices.

"We also want those who have been affected by Robert Anderson to have access to confidential support and counseling. The university is offering counseling services at no personal cost to anyone affected by Anderson."

The plaintiff is represented by The Mike Cox Law Firm of Livonia, Mich.

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