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REPORT: University Of Michigan Officials Ignored Decades Of Sexual Abuse

A report conducted by independent investigators highlights decades of sexual assault by a former University of Michigan employee.

An independent investigation conducted by the law firm WilmerHale has uncovered decades of sexual abuse by former University of Michigan employee and school doctor Robert Anderson.  In a 240-page report released by the law firm on Tuesday, nearly 600 former patients of Anderson came forward to share their experiences - often describing inappropriate and disturbing conduct by the former university doctor. 

Employed by the University of Michigan from 1966 to 2003, Anderson's habit of sexually assaulting his patients was reportedly common knowledge among Michigan's student athletes and even some officials.  According to the report released by WilmerHale, Anderson would often perform unnecessary examinations of students who were seeking treatment for unrelated issues.

The following an excerpt from the report released on Tuesday.

"Over the course of his thirty-seven years as a University employee, Dr. Anderson engaged in sexual misconduct with patients on countless occasions. Dr. Anderson’s misconduct ranged from performing medically unnecessary hernia and rectal examinations on patients seeking treatment for wholly unrelated issues, to manually stimulating male patients and causing them to ejaculate, to quid pro quo arrangements in which he provided medical services in exchange for sexual contact." 

"Dr. Anderson’s misconduct prompted some student athletes to quit their teams; it caused some students to question their sexuality; it caused some students to seek counseling; it affected some students’ academics, including some who left the University; and it undoubtedly affected other students in myriad ways. The trauma that Dr. Anderson’s misconduct caused persists to this day.

The report went on to highlight that Robert Anderson assaulted students of all genders, races and backgrounds.

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"Dr. Anderson abused men and women, students from different racial backgrounds, undergraduate and graduate students, student athletes, and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (“LGBTQ”) community. " 

Beyond the disturbing conduct carried about by Anderson during his time at the University of Michigan, the investigation also examined the University's handling of the allegations - including former Michigan head football coach Bo Schembechler. 

"The University received contemporaneous information about Dr. Anderson’s misconduct from multiple sources. A senior University administrator was told about Dr. Anderson’s misconduct several times between 1978 or 1979 and 1981 but did not take appropriate action. Concerning information was also shared with other University personnel. Although the information these individuals received varied in directness and specificity, Dr. Anderson’s misconduct may have been detected earlier and brought to an end if they had considered, understood, investigated, or elevated what they heard."  

"A member of the football team in the late 1970s told DPSS that he received a genital examination from Dr. Anderson, who fondled his testicles, and a rectal examination, during which the student athlete pushed Dr. Anderson’s hand away. The student athlete told DPSS that he asked Mr. Schembechler “soon” after the exam, “What’s up with the finger in the butt treatment by Dr. Anderson?” According to the student athlete, Mr. Schembechler told him to “toughen up.” The student athlete told DPSS that “you do not mess with Bo, and the matter was dropped.” The student athlete, who is represented by counsel, declined our interview request."

For its part, the University of Michigan Board of Regents issued a statement following the release of the report.

"Today, we received WilmerHale’s 240-page report at the same time it was released publicly. The report is available on the U-M Board of Regents website. We will thoughtfully and diligently review and assess the report’s findings, conclusions, and recommendations; and we will work to regain the trust of survivors and to assure that we foster a safe environment for our students, our employees, and our community."

You can read the full report on the University of Michigan Board of Regents website.