The University of Michigan Agrees to Pay $490 Million to More Than 1000 Sexual Abuse Victims
University of Michigan (UM) has agreed to pay a settlement of $490 million to individuals who claim Dr. Robert Anderson sexually abused them during his almost 40-year career at the university. Anderson worked in health services and performed medical duties for various athletic teams. Anderson retired from the university in 2003 and died in 2008.
University of Michigan Doctor Accused of Decades of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault
ESPN reported that the settlement was reached through mediation and will be shared by more than 1000 people, mostly men, who filed lawsuits claiming Anderson sexually abused them “during routine medical examinations.”
According to the Washington Post, “the complaints of fondling and unnecessary rectal and genital exams span decades.” Many victims also claim Anderson harassed them during exams and made inappropriate sexual comments.
Victims of Sexual Abuser at UM Say Their Complaints Were Ignored
Survivors of the doctor’s abuse told investigators that they frequently complained and reported the misconduct to their trainers, coaches, and university administrators. One victim, Tad Deluca, a former wrestler at UM in the 1970s, complained to his coach and wrote a letter regarding the abuse to the then-athletic director. His letter was ignored. His wrestling scholarship was taken away in 1975.
Deluca decided to try again with a letter to Athletic Director Ward Manuel. It’s Manuel who launched an investigation into allegations against Anderson. Deluca is credited with being the “whistleblower,” without whom the settlement would never have occurred.
Firm Finds University of Michigan Missed Warning Signs and Failed to Stop Sexual Abuse
In a report by Wilmer Hale, the law firm hired in 2020 by the university to conduct an investigation into the sexual abuse allegations, the firm “found that Anderson engaged in sexual misconduct on “countless occasions” and that authority figures heard specific accusations as well as rumors about Anderson’s misconduct but failed to stop him from abusing others.”
The report states that complaints about Anderson’s conduct went as far back as the 1960s. The report also found:
- Rumors about Anderson’s misconduct (such as performing frequent rectal exams and hernia exams) were commonplace and known by many employees.
- After receiving complaints about Anderson’s conduct while he worked in university health services, the university transferred him to the athletic department, where he continued to examine student-athletes for 20 years.
- Student-athletes allegedly informed athletic trainers, track coaches, a school psychologist, and famed football coach Bo Schembechler.
In essence, the report found that the university missed dozens of opportunities over decades to stop Anderson from continuing to sexually assault and abuse students under his care.
Sexual Abuse Settlement Includes Money for Additional Victims
Of the $490 million, $460 million will be shared between approximately 1050 known victims of Anderson. A third party will determine the allocation of compensation and will depend on various factors.
The additional $30 million is to be set aside for future claims.
Jordan Acker, the chairperson of the University Board of Regents, told reporters that the board needs to approve the settlement, and it must be approved by 98% of claimants.
The judge overseeing the matter must also approve the settlement.
Call Alonso Krangle, LLP, If You Are The Victim of Sexual Abuse
Unfortunately, this story is not unique. Universities across the country have been settling claims that school doctors sexually abused students and student-athletes. The University of Michigan now joins the ranks of Michigan State, Penn State, and USC in their failure to protect students from sexual predators. Like those universities, UM is being held accountable for the damages.
If you are the victim of sexual abuse, call our lawyers at Alonso Krangle, LLP, to determine if you are entitled to compensation. Call us at 800-409-6191 to schedule a free consultation with our sexual abuse lawyers.