An investigation into former University of Michigan physician Robert Anderson concluded that the Big Ten university in Ann Arbor missed numerous opportunities to stop the doctor’s abuse.
WilmerHale, a law firm hired by the university, released its report Tuesday, more than a year after former students began accusing Anderson of molesting through his work as a physician. Anderson, who died in 2008, worked at the university from 1968 until retiring in 2003.
According to The Associated Press, WilmerHale’s report found that former Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler was among the university officials who were aware of complaints against Anderson but didn’t take action.
“He continued to provide medical services to student athletes and other patients — and to engage in sexual misconduct with large numbers of them — for the rest of his career,” the report reads, concluding that a number of faculty members had opportunities to limit the harass, abuse and assault. “The fact that no one took meaningful action is particularly disturbing in light of the nature, scope, and duration of Dr. Anderson’s misconduct.”
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WilmerHale said that 600 people sent in reports about their experiences with Anderson, while 300 agreed to be interviewed.
“The medical experts we consulted confirm what many patients suspected: Dr. Anderson’s conduct was not consistent with any recognized standard of care and was, on the contrary, grossly improper,” the report reads.
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The firm found at least 20 occasions when a student, athlete or other individual spoke with university staff about Anderson’s actions. There were at least three times in the 1970s and 1980s that former assistant vice president of student services Thomas Easthope, who also oversaw the University Health Service, received complaints.
“Despite having heart about Dr. Anderson’s misconduct, Mr. Easthope himself signed documentation related to Dr. Anderson’s continued employment at UHS in January 1980 and approved a salary increase for him in or around August 1980,” the report reads.
Easthope wasn’t alone in looking past the complaints. WilmerHale’s report alleges that there were rampant rumors and jokes about Anderson’s behavior, but coaches and trainers didn’t take them seriously. There were allegedly eight instances of a Michigan student-athlete complaining about Anderson to an athletic staff member, including three instances of football players telling Schembechler.
According to The Associated Press, the report found that one player who told Schembechler he was fondled in the 1970s told the University of Michigan’s department of public safety and security that the legendary coach told him to “toughen up.” Another player said he told former athletic director Don Canham of Anderson’s abuse twice, but Canham took no action.
The University of Michigan and complainants are working with a mediator to settle lawsuits.
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