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University of Michigan reaches $490M settlement with survivors of Dr. Robert Anderson

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Posted at 12:00 PM, Jan 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-19 12:00:00-05

(WXYZ) — The University of Michigan will pay $490 million to those who say they were sexually abused by the late Dr. Robert Anderson.

According to the university, $460 million of that total will be available to the approximately 1,050 claimants, and $30 million will be reserved for future claimants, if they decide to participate in the settlement before July 31, 2023.

Attorney Jamie White, who represents just under 100 Anderson victims, released the following statement:

"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.

The university has announced that the school and claimants have reached a settlement agreement. The case will be resolved for $490 million. $460 million would be available to 1,050 claimants and the other $30 million is reserved for future claimants that participate in the settlement before July, 31.

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."

More than 1,000 people over the course of decades say they were abused by Anderson, who was a sports doctor at the university. The abuse allegedly started at the time Anderson was hired at the university in 1966 and continued until he retired in 2003.

“We hope this settlement will begin the healing process for survivors,” said Jordan Acker, chair of the University of Michigan Board of Regents, in a press release. “At the same time, the work that began two years ago, when the first brave survivors came forward, will continue.”

The money is less than Michigan State University paid out to survivors of Dr. Larry Nassar. The university settled for $500 million, paid out to more than 500 women. USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee also settled for $380 million with Nassar survivors.

Related: Students were 'sacrificed on the altar of the block M,' says doctor's new accuser

The allegations of sexual abuse by Anderson came to light in July 2018 when Tad DeLuca wrote a letter to U-M Athletic Director Warde Manuel. Anderson died in 2008.

In May 2021, a report commissioned by the university from WilmerHale Law Firm was released. It found credible allegations of sexual abuse between 1966 and 2003.

A report commissioned by the University of Michigan lays out a disturbing history of abuse to students and student-athletes at the hands of Dr. Robert Anderson that spanned decades at the school.

Some of the revelations included in the report may be disturbing to some readers.

The allegations laid out in the report include various incidents of sexual abuse, including unnecessary hernia checks, pelvic examinations, and rectal and prostate examinations, as well as incidents of fondling male patients until they ejaculated. The also included incidents where Anderson had the patients perform such acts on his own body. The report states that these incidents were done under the guise of demonstrating how to perform such examinations.

In their investigation, WilmerHale found that university personnel were informed about Anderson's misconduct at several different times and from multiple sources and no action was taken to prevent such abuse from continuing. The report also states that "almost immediately" after Anderson arrived at the university rumors began spreading about his "inappropriate and unnecessary examinations of a sensitive nature."

The report says these rumors were so widespread that roughly half of the patients who reported negative experiences to the investigators said they were away for the rumors or jokes about them either before or after their own experiences.

The jokes included nicknames given to Dr. Anderson by student-athletes, among whom he had a reputation for performing genital or rectal examinations no matter the reason for their visit. The report quotes these nicknames as including“Handy Andy,” “Goldfinger,” “Dr. Handerson,” and “Dr. Drop Your Drawers Anderson,” among others.

However, the report also found incidents where the university was directly informed of abusive conduct and did nothing to stop them. One such occasion came in 1975 when a student-athlete informed the wrestling coach that regardless of the reason for the visit, Dr. Anderson would ask the patient to drop their drawers and cough. WilmerHale found no evidence these complaints were looked into.

You can read the full report below:

WH Anderson Report by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd