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Michigan Contacting Thousands About Medical Abuse

Paul Steinbach

The University of Michigan is contacting nearly 7,000 former student-athletes who were on campus during the tenure of Dr. Robert Anderson and asking them to speak with investigators if they were sexually abused by him, or know anything pertinent to an external investigation of the late Wolverine team physician, according to The Detroit News.

Athletic director Warde Manuel, who was a UM student-athlete, will send a letter to every former student-athlete who was on campus from the mid-1960s to the early 2000s. Anderson, who has been accused publicly and in lawsuits of conducting sexually inappropriate and unnecessary physical exams, worked at the university from 1968-2003 and died in 2008.

The information gathered, "will allow the university to better prevent abuse from happening in the future," according to Manuel's letter dated April 8. It reads, in part, "The university takes seriously the safety and well-being of its students and condemns the misconduct that has been reported."

Manuel will send the letter via email to every student for whom the university has an email address — about 4,400 students. Manuel will also send a letter via the U.S. postal service to 6,800 students. Some will get both.

Allegations against Anderson emerged in February, when former UM student Robert Julian Stone shared his story about allegedly being assaulted by Anderson in 1971 during medical care and at the same time he was coming out as gay. Since then, scores of others have come forward and reported abuse by Anderson, including gay men who weren't athletes at the school. Thomas Easthope, then UM associate director of students, fired Anderson in 1979 for "fooling around with male students" in exam rooms after being alerted by activists in the gay community, but the doctor stayed on at UM for another 24 years, according to a UM police investigation.

The university retained the international law firm WilmerHale to conduct its current investigation into Anderson's alleged conduct.

“WilmerHale’s mission is to follow the facts wherever they may lead in order to help the university understand how the abuse that has been reported could have occurred," Manuel's letter states. "That knowledge will allow the university to better prevent abuse from happening in the future.”

Manuel's letter also addresses confidentiality, stating, “WilmerHale will not disclose to the university or anyone else the names of any person who provides information in the investigation and WilmerHale will protect the identity and confidentiality of former patients and witnesses to the greatest extent permitted by law."

A university hotline dedicated to the investigation has received 168 calls, The Detroit News reported.

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