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University of Michigan to pay $490M to former students who accused wrestling team doctor of sexual assault

Dr. Robert E. Anderson has been accused of abusing multiple student athletes.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 04 Big Ten Championship Game - Michigan v Iowa
University of Michigan flag flying at a football game.
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The University of Michigan has reached a $490 million settlement with over 1,000 former students who claimed they were sexually abused by Dr. Robert E. Anderson, a former sports doctor at the school.

Jamie White, an attorney who represents just under 100 of the plaintiffs, released a statement to Bloody Elbow regarding the settlement.

“The University of Michigan has accepted responsibility financially and otherwise for harm that was caused by Anderson to so many young people that could have been avoided. The university should be commended and not condemned.

“Most of our clients had a strong love for the University and did not want to see permanent damage, but wanted accountability. I believe we accomplished those goals yesterday.

“It is time for the Michigan legislators to look at why two of the largest scandals in the history of the country — Larry Nassar and Robert Anderson — happened at Michigan’s two largest universities. Other states have addressed this issue. It is time for Michigan leadership to do the same.”

The claims against Anderson, who died in 2008, first came to light in 2018 thanks to former Michigan wrestler Tad DeLuca (per NBC).

In 1975 he wrote a nine page letter to his coach Bill Johannesen and athletics director Don Canham claiming Anderson repeatedly assaulted him during medical examinations.

DeLuca said Johannesen humiliated him by reading his letter out in front of the rest of the wrestling team. DeLuca said he was then kicked off the team and lost his scholarship.

After Larry Nassar was convicted of abusing 265 gymnasts at both Michigan State University and within the U.S national gymnastics team, DeLuca decided to contact authorities about Anderson.

This lead to hundreds of more accusations being made against Anderson, who DeLuca said was known as “Dr. Drop Your Drawers”.

Washtenaw County police investigated Anderson and reported that staff at Michigan had been “aware of rumors and allegations of misconduct” by Anderson.

University President Mark Schlissel formerly apologized to Anderson’s accusers in 2020. Schlissel was fired from his post last week after he was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a University employee.

The case at the University of Michigan is strikingly similar to that at Ohio State Universitym regarding Dr. Richard Strauss.

Strauss, who died by suicide in 2005, was a team doctor for the OSU wrestling squad, and many other University teams. He also treated students at an off-campus facility. Over a hundred former athletes have accused Strauss of abusing them during medical examinations. In 2020 OSU agreed to a $40.9 million settlement with Strauss’ accusers.

Many of Strauss’ accusers were wrestlers, including former UFC heavyweight champion Marc Coleman. Some of the wrestlers who have spoken out about Strauss have claimed Strauss’ activities were common knowledge among their coaches. One of those coaches was Jim Jordan, who currently represents Ohio’s 4th District in the U.S. Senate.

Jordan has denied claims that he knew about the abuse and failed to act to protect students from Strauss.

Survivors of sexual assault can find support via the following organizations:

US - Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)’s National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). RAINN also has an online chat service.

Love is Respect, 1-866-331-9474. They can also be reached via online chat or by texting LOVEIS to 22522.

End Rape on Campus (EROC), 1-424-777-EROC (3762).

Canada - Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime, 1-877-232-2610.

UK and Ireland - UK Says No More.

Rest of the World - International Rape Crisis Hotlines.