40 Black Men Are Accusing A Former University Of Michigan Athletic Doctor Of Sexual Assault
“We’ve never seen this many young African American men abused in any setting by the same person…” the mens’ lawyer said.
April 22, 2020 at 6:10 pm
University of Michigan athletic doctor Robert Anderson has been accused of sexually abusing at least 40 Black men who attended the school in the 1970s and 80s, according to MLive.
The group of 40 men hired Michigan lawyer Jamie White, who became well known for his work representing 160 victims of former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar in their lawsuit against the university.
The men told White and news outlets that Anderson, who died in 2008, fondled their genitals or anally penetrated them with his fingers.
The university initiated an investigation into Anderson when a former wrestler for the school contacted athletic director Warde Manuel about how he was sexually assaulted. MLive and The Ann Arbor News were able to obtain a 91-page police report with dozens of personal accounts detailing unnecessary hernia and prostate exams Anderson performed on the students.
White said finding the victims was a long process and that many of them were “particularly vulnerable” to Anderson because they were athletes for the university.
“We’ve never seen this many young African American men abused in any setting by the same person, but certainly not in the setting of one of the most prestigious universities in the world,” White said.
“Most, if not all of these men from the 1970s and 80s, were first-generation college students. They came from depressed socioeconomic backgrounds, and their only lifeline was these athletic scholarships. So, for those reasons, these men literally just bared what Anderson would do because, as they will say, there weren’t any options. They will all unilaterally say that had they not cooperated with these sports physicals, they would have lost their scholarships," White added.
The school hired law firm WilmerHale to conduct an investigation into Anderson's actions and has released multiple statements about the situation following other lawsuits that have been filed related to Anderson's actions.
In February, a statement from The University of Michigan Board of Regents and President Mark Schlissel said the school has begun the process of reaching out to anyone with information about Anderson and anyone who may have been sexually assaulted during medical exams by him.
"This follows completion of a police investigation that found significant evidence of abuse. These results were provided to the prosecutor’s office. Dr. Anderson worked at U-M from 1968 until 2003 as a team physician in Athletics and director of the University Health Service," the statement read.
"Five of his former patients have recently reported that he committed sexual misconduct during the 1970s until 2002. After the first allegation, we promptly engaged U-M police and our Office for Institutional Equity, and a police investigation began. We also hired an external firm earlier this year to conduct an independent review of the decades-old allegations," the statement continued.
"On behalf of the university, I apologize to anyone who was harmed by Dr. Anderson. Our police investigation found indications that U-M staff members were aware of rumors and allegations of misconduct during Dr. Anderson’s medical exams. To those who reported Dr. Anderson, and to anyone who has come forward to report sexual misconduct in any case, I express my sincere gratitude for your courage," the statement read.
The school was under fire in March for hiring a law firm that represented Roman Polanski and Jeffrey Epstein, both of whom have been accused of sexual misconduct in the past. The school was forced to replace the law firm and release another statement apologizing for the mistake.
According to MLive, nearly 6,800 former student-athletes have been contacted by the school about Anderson's actions. MLive profiled a former University of Michigan football player who had unresolved trauma from the sexual abuse and unnecessary prostate exams Anderson performed on him.
Chuck Christian told MLive he began to have prostate issues in his 40s, and when he went to the doctor to have the exam done, he was immediately transported back to his traumatizing time with Anderson. Even with his continual prostate problems, he refused to go back to the doctor for nearly three years. Christian now has prostate cancer.
“I couldn’t come in earlier because I had that block there because of that snapping glove and the pain and trauma of that situation,” Christian told MLive.
Eventually, Christian's wife forced him to go back to a urologist because he was having so many issues, but he waited so long that the cancer had spread to his hips, spine, tailbone, shoulders and ribs. Doctors have told him there is nothing they can do for him.
“I always taught my kids that if they make good choices, they will leave their mark on this world, and if they make bad choices, they will leave a stain behind. Dr. Anderson left a stain behind, and others will have to clean up that stain, and that makes me sad,” Christian said.