Former Michigan athletes prosecute the school for claims that they have been sexually abused by a team doctor
Three former athletes at the University of Michigan filed lawsuits against the school on Thursday, claiming that a late doctor sexually assaulted them while the men were members of the football and hockey teams in the 1980s.
The lawsuits, which only identify the men as John Doe, reflect the allegations in the first indictment against Dr. Robert E. Anderson. All lawsuits accuse the university of not having removed Anderson, despite several complaints about him.
The men are all represented by Mike Cox, a former attorney general from Michigan, who said on Wednesday that his company represents around 20 people who are all willing to file lawsuits against the school.
Three former athletes at the University of Michigan filed lawsuits against the school on Thursday, claiming that a late doctor sexually assaulted them while the men were members of the football and hockey teams in the 1980s. The lawsuits, which only identify the men as John Doe, reflect the allegations in the first indictment against Dr. Robert E. Anderson. All lawsuits accuse the university of not having removed Anderson despite several complaints
The athletes involved in the lawsuit are not mentioned, but at least one played football in the 1980s
The university revealed last month that it was investigating multiple allegations of abuse against Anderson, who died in 2008. He had a decades-long career as director of the University’s Health Service and a physician for multiple athletic teams, including football from 1996 until his retirement in 2003.
According to the lawsuits filed on Thursday, a man received an athletic scholarship and was a member of the football team from 1980 to 1985. According to the lawsuits, he saw Anderson several times a year for physical and various injuries.
“In an illustrative example, plaintiff reminds him to see Anderson when he had a sore throat, and during this appointment, Anderson violated plaintiff with digital anal penetration and genital stroking,” the suit said.
Dr. Robert Anderson’s death photo from 2008
Another man’s lawsuit identified him as an All-State high school football player who received an athletic scholarship and was a member of the Michigan team from 1981 to 1985. The man saw Anderson about four times a year for physical and other medical problems, the suit said.
‘Once Plaintiff Anderson has not seen for issues related to his genitals or anus; but usually Anderson needed plaintiff, Anderson demanded plaintiff to drop his pants so that Anderson could digitally penetrate plaintiff’s anus and stroke plaintiff’s genitals, “the suit said.
The third lawsuit was filed on behalf of a man who was a member of the hockey team from 1983 to 1984 with an athletic scholarship. The suit said the man saw Anderson about five times a year for physical and medical problems.
During most of those visits, “Anderson sexually abused, abused and abused plaintiff, by applying non-consensual digital anal penetration and genital stroking,” the suit said.
The university president apologized for “those who suffered damage” by Anderson and officials have acknowledged that some campus staff were aware of allegations against the doctor prior to a 2018 complaint that led to a police investigation.
Complaints were filed against Anderson by at least one Wolverines footballer in the 1980s
Campus police discovered that previous complaints spanned much of Anderson’s time at the school, until 2002.
The school announced last week that it had received more than 100 complaints about Anderson since mid-February.
Several other law firms have spoken to dozens of other people who claim that Anderson has attacked them.
Three men planned to speak in public later Thursday, accompanied by women attacked by Michigan State University sports physician Larry Nassar, who is currently serving a prison sentence of 235 years after being found guilty of a litany of sexual abuse and indictments for child porn.
In fact, it was the victims of Nassar who inspired former Michigan athletes such as former wrestler Tad DeLuca to come forward.
A DeLuca lawyer said last week that his client complained to his wrestling coach in 1975 that Anderson had abused him during medical exams. In response, the then coach Bill Johannesen DeLuca humiliated, kicked him off the team and effectively removed his financial help, the lawyer said.
Tad Deluca, a 70s University of Michigan wrestler, speaks at a news conference on Thursday, February 27, 2020, and identified himself as the whistleblower whose complaint about Dr. Dr. Robert E. Anderson from 2018 led to a police investigation
“I spoke again in a letter in 2018 after hearing an NPR story about the MSU gymnasts, women I fear,” DeLuca said at a press conference in suburban Detroit. “Again, the University of Michigan ignored me.
“I am here today to speak again, to let the University of Michigan know that I will not be ignored.”
DeLuca’s letter of complaint 2018 about Anderson, now deceased, led to a university police investigation that became public last week. Two other former wrestlers in Michigan who claimed they had been abused by Anderson also spoke with reporters on Thursday: Tom Evashevski and Andy Hrovat, the first athlete to publicly say that Anderson was molesting him.
Evashevski was in Michigan in the mid-1970s near DeLuca in Michigan. Hrovat was a star wrestler in the late 1990s for the Wolverines and went on to compete with the US at the 2008 Olympic Games.
“These were and are physically and mentally tough men,” said lawyer Parker Stinar, who represents the trio. “But they were all victims of sexual abuse and victims of an institution that ignored warning after warning after warning about a predator hunting young individuals.”
DeLuca wrote his complaints about Anderson in 1975 in a letter to Johannesen. Johannesen then read DeLuca’s letter to his teammates in an attempt to humiliate him, kicked him out of the team and took his purse away, according to Stinar.
Johannesen in interviews with The Associated Press this week denied that one of his student athletes had ever told him that Anderson had improperly touched him.
“You can’t call him a coach,” said DeLuca, a retired teacher in northern Michigan. “Coach is an expression of affection.”
Stinar, who met with the school’s general council on Thursday afternoon, predicts that there will be “hundreds more victims,” and that his company already represents more than a dozen.
Several other law firms have spoken to potential prosecutors about legal action in the past week. Among them are lawyers Michelle Simpson Tuegel and H. James White, who represented more than 60 people who were abused by Nassar in the state of Michigan.
White said on Thursday that the number of potential Anderson victims is “extremely worrying,” and added that “the University of Michigan and the community in general should brace themselves.”
Stinar, based in Denver, said the university should declare its years of inactivity.
“The University of Michigan stood for nearly four decades. Anderson is the first to escape from vulnerable young people, “he said. “I ask the University of Michigan this: why didn’t you act in 1975 or earlier to prevent sexual abuse of possibly hundreds of other victims?”
Hours after the press conference, the University of Michigan issued a statement.
“The three brave men who came forward today to share their stories brought forth a powerful message,” the statement said. “We want to encourage anyone who has been harmed by Robert E. Anderson or who has evidence of his misconduct to come forward. We want to hear your voices at the University of Michigan. “
Attorney Mick Grewal, based in Okemos, Michigan, and collaborating with companies in Grand Rapids and California, said more than 30 prosecutors have retained their services. He said he expects the number to grow rapidly because attacks may have taken place over a period of 30 to 50 years.
“This case is evolving faster than we would ever believe, even faster than the Nassar case,” he said.
From the left, Wahlberg, Woodruff, Nimmo & Sloane, LLP lawyers Michael Nimmo, Parker Stinar and Dan Sloane hold a press conference about alleged claims of sexual abuse by their clients against the former doctor of the University of Michigan, Dr. Robert E. Anderson
School officials have acknowledged that some school staff were aware of allegations against Anderson prior to DeLuca’s 2018 complaint. Last week, the university president apologized to “everyone who suffered damage” by Anderson and offered advisory services.
The school started investigating the doctor’s behavior following allegations of abuse by five people and also set up a hotline for those who came in contact with Anderson.
DeLuca hopes that more people will follow his example.
“Anyone who was abused by this doctor, the doctor who knew anyone who did this, abused athletes and students, should speak and let everyone know that they are not being ignored,” DeLuca said. “It just has to stop. Period of time.’
Apart from that, the Ann Arbor school district said it is investigating whether Anderson had a role in local schools. A police report suggested that he had performed sports physics years ago.
“This is the first time we’ve heard this information,” said Chief Inspector Jeanice Swift.
The Flint district said it confirmed that someone named Anderson was once an employee, but “we have no information about his employment history.”
“We encourage anyone with information on this issue to contact the local police,” the district said.