U of M not only failed to investigate Robert Anderson for decades amid widespread reports of student sexual abuse, but U of M helped facilitate his abuse by keeping him in an office attached to the school of dentistry and, later, giving him the prestigious title of “team physician” and regular access to almost all U of M athletes.
There have been numerous news articles published and lawsuits filed against University of Michigan (U of M) and its officials for failing to protect students from U of M physician Robert E. Anderson, who was a sports team doctor – and who also worked for student health services. Males and females have reported being inappropriately touched in their genital regions, with males reporting additional abuse that involved painful and medically unnecessary anal exams (often without gloves), as well as Anderson exposing himself and having patients fondle him. There have also been reports of Anderson sedating some of his male patients and getting them addicted to benzodiazepine s (such as Ativan). Female patients report abuse including improper breast exams and fondling of the breasts. Anderson reportedly engaged in sexual abuse from the late 1960’s through the late 1990’s or early 2000’s.
U OF M DENTAL STUDENTS ARE REPORTING THAT ANDERSON SEXUALLY ASSAULTED THEM.
Most reports of Anderson’s sexual abuse involve young males. However, some females have also reported being abused by Anderson, and this includes U of M dental students.
The U of M School of Dentistry was attached to the U of M Student Health Services building until the early 1990’s. Both male and female students of dentistry frequented Student Health Services. It has been reported that Anderson would show up for patient exams with an unkept look that included greasy hair and a very dirty lab coat. Some former patients have reported that they don’t believe Anderson wore gloves when he examined their anal or genital regions. Males have reported having to undergo unnecessary and lengthy anal and genital exams (involving the testicles and penis), and females have reported improper vaginal and breast exams that were not medically indicated for the conditions they had. For many students, Anderson was the first physician they had ever visited without being accompanied by a parent. Both males and females who were treated by Anderson reportedly received intrusive exams without any explanation or warning. Many young people abused by Anderson – some of whom were only 17 – were not aware of what normal medical examinations were supposed to entail. Anderson took advantage of the students’ youth and naivety.
HOW DID ANDERSON HAVE ACCESS TO SO MANY YOUNG PEOPLE?
Anderson was U of M Athletic Department Team Physician and on the faculty of U of M’s Department of Internal Medicine from 1967 – 1998. From 1968 – 1980, Anderson was U of M’s Director of Student Health Services.
Anderson had access to students and other young people through the following:
- Student Health Services;
- U of M’s Internal Medicine Department;
- The athletic teams he worked with – which included the football, basketball, swimming, track and wrestling teams;
- Employee physicals: some local employers would send their employees to Anderson for work physicals;
- Aviation programs: Anderson was an FAA Aeromedical Examiner and would give the medical exams required to get and maintain a pilot’s license – and he did these exams in the U of M Health Services building.
TIMELINE OF ANDERSON’S MEDICAL CAREER
Robert Anderson lived in Michigan his entire adult life. Below is a timeline of his medical career.
- 1953: Graduated from U of M Medical School
- 1953 / 1954: Residency from approximately 1953/1954 – late 1950’s at Hurley Hospital in Flint
- 1954: Licensed to practice medicine in Michigan
- Late 1950’s – 1966: Private practice in Flint
- 1966: Returned to Ann Arbor
- 1967 – 1998: U of M Athletic Department Team Physician and on faculty of U of M Department of Internal Medicine
- 1968 – 1980: Director of Student Health Services at U of M
- 1980: Left Student Health Services to focus on his private practice being a U of M team physician
- 1980: Started private practice in the practice of Andrology and began serving as an FAA Aeromedical Examiner
- 1988: Awarded President’s Challenge Award from the National Athletic Trainers’ Assn
- 1997: Given “M Club” of greater Detroit Distinguished Alumni Service Award
U OF M OFFICIALS WERE AWARE OF ANDERSON’S SEXUALLY ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR FOR DECADES BEFORE HE RETIRED
In 1975 / 1976, athletic directors, coaches, members of the Board of Intercollegiate Athletics and others were made aware of Anderson’s inappropriate touching of athletes’ genitals when a wrestler wrote a note to his coach that mentioned the abuse, and this letter got shared with the above-mentioned U of M officials.
By 1980, reports of Anderson’s anal and penile exams of young males were widespread. Anderson’s boss at Student Health Services recently told a detective that he was going to fire Anderson after a gay activist informed him that Anderson had been sexually assaulting many males in the gay community. This was in or very shortly before 1980. Anderson’s boss reportedly decided to let Anderson resign because it would get him out of Student Health Services sooner.
However, as documents and history show, Anderson’s time at U of M was never interrupted. Around the time that Anderson’s former boss claims he set out to fire Anderson, U of M records show that Anderson was given a tribute and was reassigned from Student Health Services to being a team physician for U of M sports teams.
Throughout Anderson’s tenure as team physician, coaches, athletic directors and other U of M staff working with the sports teams were well aware of Anderson’s lengthy and intrusive anal and genital exams, according to numerous reports. Anderson had the name “doctor drop your drawers,” and many students would make comments around team members and team officials of “losing their virginity” to Anderson.
A detective investigating U of M’s role in Anderson’s rampant sexual abuse of young people talked to multiple physicians and other healthcare workers to determine if there was ever a reason for Anderson to examine and probe genitals and the anus. Most experts told the detective that there was no reason to perform prostate, penis and testicle exams on these young patients. A couple of experts informed the detective that in some limited circumstances, such as if the patient had very specific complaints of pain or irritation of the genital and/or anal region, there may possibly be an indication for the exams. But in general, with these very young patients, many of whom were just in for simple physicals, athletic injuries, or typical complaints of flu or cold-like symptoms, these exams were not warranted. Further, even when exams such as these are performed on patients, they are not performed in the manner in which Anderson performed them. What Anderson was doing to the patients he saw was abuse.
U of M had ample reason to fire Robert E. Anderson and report him to police for investigation in the mid to late 1970’s. The University did none of these things and, in fact, did not undertake any type of investigation into reports of Anderson’s sexually abusive behavior. U of M officials simply reassigned Anderson to a different position, giving him access to even more students on a regular basis. U of M allowed Anderson to have an office to work out of up until he retired in the late 1990’s. Not only did the University fail to protect its students and others who came to Anderson’s U of M office, but in 1980, U of M gave Anderson more tools for abuse: a prestigious “team physician” title and access to students who had regular required physicals and who were known for sustaining physical injuries that often required treatment.
FILING A CIVIL LAWSUIT FOR SEXUAL ABUSE
It is possible to file a civil lawsuit against any person, business or corporation that allowed Anderson’s sexual abuse to occur. Since the University of Michigan was aware of sexual misconduct allegations against Anderson and did not take steps to protect its students – or any potential patient of Anderson’s – U of M must be held accountable.
The nationally recognized sexual assault lawyers at Grewal Law have been fighting for the rights of victims for decades, and they have made it their mission to hold sexual abusers accountable – and to stop institutional involvement in sexual abuse. The Grewal team has unique experience in holding companies and corporations accountable for allowing sexual abuse to occur.
DEDICATED REPRESENTATION FOR SEXUAL ABUSE CLAIMS
Grewal Law represented a third of the plaintiffs in the MSU and Larry Nassar lawsuits, and the Grewal team was instrumental in obtaining the half a billion-dollar settlement from MSU. Currently, the award-winning lawyers at Grewal Law are fighting to hold USAG and USOC accountable for their roles in allowing Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse to occur. Our attorneys at Grewal Law understand what it takes to prevail against sexual predators and the companies that allow their sexual misconduct to occur.
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With more than 29 years of experience, Mick Grewal has the skills and knowledge to help his clients accomplish their goals, whether such pursuits involve sexual assualt advocacy, personal injury or medical malpractice matters. Founder and managing partner of Grewal Law, Mr. Grewal prides himself on providing full-service legal help to families in the greater area of Lansing, Michigan.