The University of Michigan is facing a sex abuse scandal involving male students, football players, wrestlers, and other athletes who say they were abused by Dr. Robert E. Anderson.
Dr. Anderson worked at UM from 1968 until his retirement in 2003. UM officials fired Dr. Anderson from student health services in 1979 for “fooling around with male students” in exam rooms, according to a police investigation.
However, instead of leaving UM, Dr. Anderson took a pay cut and became the athletic department’s top physician in January 1980, where he continued to work with student athletes for another 24 years.
He was well-known along athletes as Dr. “Drop-Your-Drawers” Anderson, according to police reports, for routinely forcing patients to strip naked and undergo genital exams.
Dr. Anderson was the top physician at the UM football team until his retirement in 2003. He died in 2008. The complaints span decades, from the late 1960s through the 1990s.
After several of his victims hired lawyers, UM opened an investigation in 2018 and created a hotline for victims to come forward. That hotline has now received more than 100 unique complaints of sexual abuse.
Last week, the university’s president announced that the school was investigating complaints and apologized to “anyone who has been harmed” by Dr. Anderson.
The victims include male students who say they were molested during medical exams at the student health center, as well as former athletes.
Bill Johannesen, the wrestling coach at UM from 1974-78, told police that student wrestlers said they would go to see Dr. Anderson for a “hurt elbow” but the first thing they’d be told to do was “take your pants down.” He said Dr. Anderson gave all of the wrestlers yearly physicals.
In November 2018, police interviewed multiple wrestlers from the 1970s who reported that Dr. Anderson gave unnecessary rectal or prostate exams during routine physicals.
UM is urging former students who believe they were sexually abused during a medical exam to come forward with information.
At least 15 of Dr. Anderson’s victims have retained attorney John Manly, a leading California lawyer for sexual abuse cases who also represented many of the victims in the Larry Nassar scandal at Michigan State University.
John Manley also represented victims in a scandal involving gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall at the University of California.
In 2018, Michigan State University agreed to pay $500 million to settle lawsuits brought by 332 victims of Larry Nassar, a former doctor who sexually abused hundreds of girls with “pelvic floor” treatments for two decades, including many members of the US Olympic Gymnastics teams.