Sexual Assault Survivors of the University of Michigan’s Dr. Anderson
Evidence is emerging that Dr. Robert E. Anderson, former University of Michigan Athletic Department team physician and University Health Service Director, may have sexually abused hundreds of patients.
According to M Live and The Associated Press, the University of Michigan officials had been warned and heard rumors for decades about Dr. Robert E. Anderson’s unnecessary hernia or prostate exams, fondling, and other acts of sexual misconduct.
Thomas Easthope, the former Vice President of Student Life, reportedly told a police detective that he believed that there could be “over 100 victims.” Easthope was the administrator who ousted Dr. Anderson from his position as Director of University Health Services in 1980. Rather than being fired, Anderson was placed into a different location in the university. He ended up as a physician for the athletic department and football team until his retirement in 2003.
The survivors of Dr. Robert E. Anderson
Since creating a hotline to report sexual abuse, UM spokesman, Rick Fitzgerald, said the hotline has received 71 calls, and there have been at least six confirmed survivors who have stories to share.
The most recent survivor to come forward is Dr. James Baraha, represented by our University of Michigan sexual abuse lawyers. In 1975, Barahal was a medical student and training with the cross country team. Barahal told The Associated Press he went to see Dr. Anderson for a sore throat. At the time, Dr. Anderson was Director of Health Service. He recalls being “fast-tracked” to see Dr. Anderson, and during the examination, received a digital rectal exam too. Even though Barahal did not tell anyone about the inappropriate exam initially, he says he “never forgot it. It was embarrassing and inappropriate. But that’s not something that guys would generally talk about.”
Barahal is speaking up to help fellow victims. “The sooner the university understands that not only was this physician capable of doing this, but he did also do it, then I think that everybody will be well on the road to whatever recovery, emotional or otherwise, that they seek.” He went on to say, “People really suffered (and) need to be believed. And the only way they’re going to be believed is if other people tell their story.”
More survivor stories of Dr. Robert E. Anderson
The public sexual misconduct claims began in July 2018, when Andy Hrovat, a former UM wrestler wrote to Athletic Director Warde Manuel to detail his abuse during medical exams. Hrovat is the first athlete to make public claims against Dr. Anderson.
In 1998 when he was a freshman, Hrovat went to go see Dr. Anderson about cold sore treatment, which is a common issue with wrestlers. At that appointment, he also received a hernia and prostate exam too. When he saw Dr. Anderson again in his junior year for an elbow injury, Dr. Anderson once again performed a penis, hernia, and prostate check. Hrovat recalls teammates warning him, “If anything happens and you go see the doctor, he’s going to inappropriately touch you, that’s just what Dr. A does.” Hrovat encourages any victims to come forward. “I would like to let people know that it’s OK to come out,” Hrovat said in an interview from his attorney’s office in Denver. “It’s OK to let your voice be heard.”
Another survivor to publicly come forward is Robert Julian Stone. He said he was a patient at the student health center in 1971. A friend had referred Stone to go see Dr. Anderson as “the doctor had been nonjudgmental with other gay students.” During that appointment, however, Dr. Anderson assaulted him. According to Stone, “Dr. Anderson exposed himself during the exam and then used Stone’s hand to touch himself.” He was livid as he knew that was wrong. He went on to say that Dr. Anderson “was a sexual predator, preying on young male students at the University of Michigan.” Stone dealt with the repercussions for almost 50 years. In 2019, he alerted officials about sexual misconduct. Stone felt like the school was not being cooperative to obtain documents, and he was empowered by the national #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct and came forward publicly.
In addition to Stone and Hrovat, another former UM graduate, Gary Bailey, shared his similar story about Dr. Anderson to The Detroit News. Bailey, now 72, was molested during an examination that occurred in the 1960s. He came forward publicly because he wanted to support Stone. Bailey said his experience and description of Anderson matched Stone’s experience too. Based on Dr. Anderson’s inappropriate actions, Bailey said, “It didn’t seem right. Back then, you didn’t question a doctor’s authority.” Bailey speculated that in the 1960s, being a gay man was not socially acceptable, and “gay people had to keep a lot of things hidden back then. Maybe he thought he could get away with it.” Bailey told others of the incident and did report the inappropriate medical exam to the university. Unfortunately, the university never followed up, and nothing ever came of the reported misconduct.
Reports now identify four more male victims – two of whom were athletes. Of the athletes, one played hockey, and the other was a wrestler.
Contact our team of University of Michigan Sexual Assault Victim Lawyers Today
Our award-winning trial attorneys have been helping survivors of sexual abuse, including 85 male victims of physician sexual abuse at Ohio State, for over twenty years. They have a successful history helping survivors and their families both financially and through the healing process while achieving the highest per-person verdicts for these types of cases.
The University of Michigan and any other involved officials need to be held accountable for the actions of Dr. Anderson during his tenure. Our legal team can help. Call us today and speak with one of our experienced attorneys. The call is 100% confidential, and there is no cost. If you would like us to represent you, we do so on a contingency basis. There is no payment upfront; we advance all costs, and you only pay if we win your case.