The University of Michigan said on Wednesday it will pay $490 million to settle lawsuits from over 1,000 people who accused Robert Anderson, a former longtime sports medicine doctor at the school, of sexual abuse. The settlement comes years after accusations against Anderson came to public attention, and decades after the alleged abuse was perpetrated.
"This historic settlement was achieved because over a thousand brave survivors refused to be silenced and demanded accountability from their abuser and the institution which enabled him," said attorney Parker Stinar, who represents about 200 claimants.
The university opened an investigation into Anderson, who retired in 2003 and died in 2008, after a former wrestler named Tad Deluca wrote a letter to the school in 2018 detailing Anderson's abuse in the 1970s. Hundreds of other survivors came forward, many of whom described Anderson repeatedly performing unnecessary genital and rectal exams, and groping them while they were students at Michigan. A police investigation was opened but ultimately closed with no charges.
Last May, a UM-hired law firm released a report from its investigation into Anderson and Michigan that stated the university “received contemporaneous information about Dr. Anderson’s misconduct from multiple sources” as far back as the 1970s. The report found that multiple people at the university were aware of and could have stopped Anderson's abuse, including legendary football coach Bo Schembechler. A month after the report was released, Schembechler's son Matt, who is now in his 60s, came forward to share that he too had been abused by Anderson and that his father had known Anderson was abusing students and worked to protect him.
In a statement today, the chair of the University of Michigan Board of Regents Jordan Acker said, “We hope this settlement will begin the healing process for survivors. At the same time, the work that began two years ago, when the first brave survivors came forward, will continue.”