The University of Michigan has reached a $490 million settlement with former athletes and other U-M students who sued the school saying they had been sexually assaulted by a former football team doctor.
There are 1,050 former athletes and other U-M students suing the university in federal court. Many of the suits, including the first filed, were filed anonymously and claim the university failed to act when it knew the late Dr. Robert Anderson was sexually assaulting students.
Anderson worked at U-M from 1968-2003 and died in 2008.
The settlement will be split between those who have sued the school, and a portion of it will be set aside for future claims.
The settlement is about $10 million less than the settlement reached between Michigan State University and the hundreds of survivors of Larry Nassar's sexual assaults.
Anderson's sexual assaults were so well known among Michigan athletes, accusers have said, that he earned nicknames — "Dr. Drop Your Drawers" and "Dr. Glove." Anderson was known to give unnecessary rectal and testicular exams to students. He also allegedly traded sexual favors for letters to send to Vietnam-era draft boards establishing men as homosexual and thus making them eligible for a draft deferment.
Many have said Anderson's assaults were well known to university officials.
A former U-M wrestler named Tad Deluca said he raised concerns about Anderson in 1975. Deluca went to Anderson for a shoulder that was giving him problems and received unnecessary rectal and testicular exams.
Deluca wrote a nine-page letter to then-Athletic Director Don Canham and then-wrestling coach Bill Johannesen outlining the abuse. In response, the two threw Deluca off the wrestling team, Deluca said in a news conference in February 2020.
In 2018, inspired by women coming forward about being sexually assaulted by Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar, Deluca wrote to current U-M Athletic Director Warde Manuel. That led to a criminal investigation. The Washtenaw County prosecutor declined to pursue charges, largely because Anderson was dead.
Several people, including the adopted son of the late famed football coach Bo Schembechler, have said in recent months they told Schembechler about the ongoing abuse. Anderson was the football team doctor under Schembechler.
Records in the university's archives reviewed by the Detroit Free Press, part of the USA TODAY Network, show Anderson regularly traveled with the team and consulted with Schembechler on such issues as setting up annual physical for players, for years, starting the late 1960s.
Former football player Jon Vaughn has been staging a sit-in in front of the university president's on-campus house since early October.
The university commissioned an independent investigation of Anderson and the firm conducting the investigation released a report in May that was critical of the university.
"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," the law firm WilmerHale wrote. "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."
"The trauma that Dr. Anderson’s misconduct caused persists to this day," the firm's report continued. "The experiences that many of Dr. Anderson’s patients relayed to us were widely consistent, containing similar details and key elements. We have no doubt, based on the evidence available to us including the first-hand accounts of his patients, that Dr. Anderson engaged in a pervasive, decades-long, destructive pattern of sexual misconduct."
Follow David Jesse on Twitter at @reporterdavidj.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: University of Michigan settles in Robert Anderson sexual abuse case