Accused sexual predator Dr. Robert Anderson collaborated with U of M athletic directors, medical school officials and others to get patients shuttled in to him for “mandatory” physical exams and fake research studies – and he reportedly helped young men avoid the Vietnam draft in exchange for sexual favors.
Medical students were handed cards by the U of M Medical School Administration, instructing them to see Dr. Anderson for a research study that officials never bothered to verify.
In 1979, medical students were given cards with lists of appointments for medical tests, such as a test for tuberculosis, which is routine for almost any student attending a university or college. Included on these cards were instructions to see Dr. Robert Anderson, with no explanation of what this visit was for.
According to an article in the Detroit Free Press, a medical student has come forward and has revealed that when he arrived to his “mandatory” office visit with Robert Anderson, someone in the office informed the student that he was there for a study on “incidence of varicoceles in otherwise healthy males.” When Anderson entered the exam room, he told the student to drop his pants, and then conducted a “very invasive exam of the student’s genitals.” There was no chaperone in the room, and no informed consent was given by the student for participation in the supposed research study. In other words, Anderson did not explain the details, including possible risks, of the study and obtain written consent from the student. After the exam, the student and his medical school classmates discussed the exam and “research study” and agreed that it was “weird” since Anderson was not trained in urology. The medical student tried to verify the research study, and to this date, there are no studies or papers published by Anderson on varicoceles or any related conditions.
It is not known how many years participation in this fake research study was “required” for medical students.
Athletic directors and other U of M officials were aware of Anderson’s sexually inappropriate behavior throughout all the years Anderson was employed by U of M.
Anderson also used his position to make athletic physicals performed by him mandatory. According to reports, he collaborated with athletic director Don Canham in 1968 on a flight home from a U of M football game on how to get more athletes into health services. In a memo sent to Canham recapping the conversation, Anderson told Canham that he had attempted to make preseason physical exams “compulsory for all athletes,” and he singled out the wrestling team as needing to be told that more athletes must be seen at student health services.
According to numerous reports and information obtained by Detective Mark West, exams by Anderson were, in fact, viewed by U of M athletes as being mandatory, and these reports include athletes from 1968 – 2003.
According to FOIA documents that include investigations by Detective West, Anderson’s inappropriate behavior with patients – including student patients – was widely known and even joked about by U of M officials, right from the beginning of his tenure with U of M, which began in 1967/1968. A U of M gymnast, Ward Black, has recently come forward, claiming that he was sexually assaulted 4 times by Anderson, starting in 1969, during annual physicals and treatment for toe and ankle injuries, and that he asked his coach what was up with the exams, but his coach made motions to change the subject. Black reported that “nobody” wanted Anderson to look at them, but that the student athletes had no choice since Anderson was the athletic department team doctor. Black also opined to reporters that his coach – and others – didn’t rock the boat regarding what they knew of Anderson because the athletic director at the time, Don Canham, was feared like crazy.
Indeed, according to reports, almost all the athletic directors at U of M from the late 1960’s until 2003, when Anderson retired, were aware of Anderson’s inappropriate anal and genitalia exams of students, but never took any steps towards stopping this behavior or even having Anderson investigated. According to U of M records, there was zero interruption in Anderson’s tenure with U of M from 1967/1968 – 2003.
Prestige and power helped enable Anderson’s predatory behavior.
U of M gave Anderson enormous power in student health services and in the prestigious medical school and athletic department, and with this power came prestige, which Anderson utilized so he could prey on vulnerable groups such as the LGBT community as well as the countless number of young men who were scared of being drafted to fight in the Vietnam war. At least three men have come forward and claimed that in the late 1960’s, Anderson was widely known as a doctor who would offer to write letters for the young men, stating that they were gay, so they could avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War. In exchange for these letters, the men were reportedly expected to watch or perform sexual acts for Anderson’s gratification.
U of M provided Anderson with many modes of access to students.
Anderson was on the faculty of U of M’s Department of Internal Medicine and was U of M Athletic Department Team Physician from 1967 – 1998. From 1968 – 1980, Anderson was U of M’s Director of Student Health Services.
Anderson had access to U of M students through the following:
- Student Health Services;
- U of M’s Internal Medicine Department;
- The athletic teams he worked with – which included the football, basketball, diving, swimming, track and wrestling teams;
- The dental school, which was in the same building as Health Services for years;
- U of M medical school, which sent students to see Anderson.
Anderson lived in Michigan his entire adult life. Below is a timeline of his 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
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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.
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SOURCES AND ADDITIONAL READING
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.
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