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Doctor Robert E. Anderson sexual misconduct complaints number more than 100 at the University of Michigan

March 4, 2020 | UMich Sexual Abuse

More than 100 University of Michigan alumni are stepping forward, telling the university through a compliance hotline that they are survivors of Dr. Robert E. Anderson’s sexual misconduct. Dr. Anderson was the former director of University Health Services before he was fired for sexual misconduct and then rehired by the Athletic Department as the team physician for multiple university sports teams.

The investigation into Dr. Anderson is the result of a July 2018 letter sent by former U-M wrestler Tad Deluca to Athletic Director Warde Manuel, outlining his claims of sexual assault. In August of 2019, one year later, the university received another letter alleging sexual misconduct by Dr. Anderson, this one from former U-M student Robert Stone. Stone called it, “My Michigan Me-too moment, 1971.”

The university went public with the complaints on February 19, 2020, only after Stone went public with his charge on the same day.

Sexual misconduct claims against Dr. Anderson go back to 1968

Thus far, Gary Bailey’s 1968 complaint against Dr. Anderson is the first on the record. Dr. Anderson reportedly asked Bailey to fondle his genitals during a medical exam. Bailey reported the sexual misconduct to the U-M Health Service.

During this late 1960’s period, it is alleged that Dr. Anderson was willing to write letters to keep students out of the Vietnam War draft. In return for certifying that the students were gay, they had to perform sexual acts, according to the Detroit Free Press.

At least two more U-M alumni are on the record of having been a victim of Dr. Anderson before Deluca’s 1975 complaint. Deluca says that he wrote a nine-page letter to his wrestling coach and the then-athletic director outlining Anderson’s abuse, only to be kicked off the wrestling team and losing his full-ride scholarship.

The year 1975 is also the year that Estey & Bomberger client, Dr. James Barahal, went to see Dr. Anderson for a sore throat and ended up with a digital rectal exam. Barahal said that at the time, he was too embarrassed to tell anyone. He is stepping forward now in hopes of helping other victims. “The only way for victims to heal is if they’re believed and the only way they’ll be believed is if people like me come forward,” he said.

Ann Arbor police investigation

In April of 2019, the university police investigation concluded with significant evidence of abuse by Dr. Anderson. The findings were turned over to the Washtenaw County prosecutor, who declined further action since Dr. Anderson was deceased, and the statute of limitations had expired.

The 91-page report was obtained in February of 2020 by various media outlets in Michigan through the Freedom of Information Act. The report includes interviews with more than 50 people who had contact with Dr. Robert E. Anderson during his tenure at the university, including some who claimed Dr. Anderson performed unnecessary hernia and prostate exams.

The report names at least three people who heard rumors about Dr. Anderson’s behavior, including Tom Easthope, former vice president of student life.

Easthope is quoted in the report as saying that there could be over 100 people that were victims of Dr. Anderson. There are conflicting reports as to whether Easthope fired Dr. Anderson or whether he was allowed to resign. Easthope told investigators that he fired Dr. Anderson, but Easthope’s wife, with a background in human resources, said the termination process was quicker if Dr. Anderson resigned.

The police report, according to the Detroit News, contained a document dated August 13, 1979, stating that Anderson was to be moved from his position as director of the health service to clinical instructor effective January 14, 1980. From that point forward for the next 24 years, he served as the athletic department’s top physician, including for the football teams coached by Bo Schembechler and Lloyd Carr.

More questions about Dr. Anderson

Dr. Anderson’s obituary stated that he established a program to provide free physical examinations to high school students while he was a resident at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan. Ann Arbor school officials report that they’re investigating what role Anderson might have played in the district, while Flint’s school district is asking possible victims to reach to authorities.

The University of Michigan going forward

The University of Michigan joins other universities that have faced scandals involving high-profile sexual predators, including Michigan State, Penn State, the University of Southern California and Ohio State University.

The ramifications are serious for schools that go out of their way to put students in harm’s way knowingly. The law firm of Estey & Bomberger is suing Ohio State on behalf of 85 alumni and former athletes who state that athletic team physician Dr. Richard Strauss abused them between 1979 and 1997. USC is now required to make sweeping changes to its Title IX procedures after the Feds determined that the school failed to protect students from Dr. George Tyndall. Dr. Tyndall was formerly employed as a gynecologist at the school’s student health center, with reports of sexual misconduct going back as far as 1989.

Contact our Michigan sexual abuse lawyers

The U-M alumni contacting our University of Michigan sexual abuse lawyers all express an affinity and love of their university. They are coming forward to hold U-M accountable for its actions, which led to Dr. Anderson having unsupervised access to engage in sexual misconduct with young college students. They are also coming forward to ensure that U-M never again repeats the past and places U-M college students at risk. The University of Michigan also has a long history of sexual misconduct in the last ten years, which alumni would like to see never happen again.

For a free and confidential consultation, call our office at (517) 200-9212 or contact us online. If you decide to join fellow U-M alumni in being represented by our law firm, you can remain anonymous.