The University of Michigan has reached a $490 million settlement with former athletes and other University of Michigan students who sued the school alleging sexual assault by a former football team doctor.
In federal court, 1,050 former athletes and other University of Michigan students are suing the university. Many of the lawsuits, including the first, were filed anonymously and allege that the university did nothing when it was aware that the late Dr. Robert Anderson was sexually assaulting students.
Anderson worked at the University of Michigan from 1968 to 2003 and died in 2008.
The settlement will be divided among those who have sued the school, with a portion set aside for future claims. The settlement is roughly $10 million less than the one reached between Michigan State University and the hundreds of survivors of Larry Nassar’s sexual assaults.
Anderson’s sexual assaults, accusers claim, were so well known among Michigan athletes that he earned the nicknames “Dr. Drop Your Drawers” and “Dr. Glove.” Anderson was well-known for subjecting students to unnecessary rectal and testicular examinations. He also allegedly exchanged sexual favors for letters to Vietnam-era draft boards establishing men as homosexual and thus allowing them to avoid the draft.
Anderson’s assaults, according to many, were well known to university officials.
Tad Deluca, a former University of Michigan wrestler, said he raised concerns about Anderson in 1975. Deluca went to Anderson for a problem with his shoulder and received unnecessary rectal and testicular exams.
Deluca detailed the abuse in a nine-page letter to then-Athletic Director Don Canham and then-wrestling coach Bill Johannesen. In response, the two kicked Deluca off the wrestling team, according to Deluca at a press conference in February 2020.
Deluca wrote to current U-M Athletic Director Warde Manuel in 2018, inspired by women who came forward about being sexually assaulted by Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar. This prompted a criminal investigation. The prosecutor in Washtenaw County declined to press charges, owing largely to Anderson’s death.
Several people, including the adopted son of the late famed football coach Bo Schembechler, have said they told Schembechler about the ongoing abuse in recent months. Anderson was Schembechler’s football team doctor.
Anderson traveled with the team and consulted with Schembechler on issues such as setting up annual physicals for players for years, beginning in the late 1960s, according to records in the university’s archives.
Since early October, former football player Jon Vaughn has been staging a sit-in in front of the university president’s on-campus house.
Anderson was the subject of an independent investigation commissioned by the university, and the firm conducting the investigation issued a report critical of the university in May.
“A senior university administrator was informed about Dr. Anderson’s misconduct several times between 1978 or 1979 and 1981 but did not take appropriate action,” according to the law firm WilmerHale. “This information was also shared with other university employees. Although the information these people received varied in its directness and specificity, Dr. Anderson’s misconduct could have been detected and stopped sooner if they had considered, understood, investigated, or elevated what they heard.”
“The trauma that Dr. Anderson’s misconduct caused persists to this day,” the firm’s report continued. “The experiences that many of Dr. Anderson’s patients relayed to us were widely consistent, containing similar details and key elements. We have no doubt, based on the evidence available to us including the first-hand accounts of his patients, that Dr. Anderson engaged in a pervasive, decades-long, destructive pattern of sexual misconduct.”