The University of Michigan says it has received more than 100 “unique complaints” about a late physician accused of sexual abuse by former patients, including athletes who encountered him as a team doctor
ANN ARBOR, Mich. —
A University of Michigan hotline has received more than 100 “unique complaints” about a late physician accused of sexual abuse by former patients, including athletes who encountered him as a team doctor, the school announced Friday.
In a statement released with the updated total, a spokesman urged others to contact the university.
“It is truly important for the investigators to hear the voices of survivors for the investigators to understand the full scope of harm and its root causes,” spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said.
The university’s president apologized last week to “anyone who was harmed” by Dr. Robert E. Anderson. His comment came a day after the school announced it was investigating abuse allegations against Anderson by five former patients.
Men who have since spoken publicly about Anderson include former athletes who encountered him as a physician for the school’s athletic teams and former students who said the doctor molested them during medical exams at the university’s health service.
Police records released to The Associated Press show University of Michigan officials were warned more than four decades ago that Anderson was fondling patients during medical exams and pressured him to step down as director of the health service.
Other complaints detail alleged abuse by Anderson throughout his tenure at the university. He retired in 2003 and died in 2008.
Several law firms have spent the past week talking to potential accusers about legal action. Among them are attorneys Michelle Simpson Tuegel and H. James White, who represented more than 60 people who were abused by convicted Michigan State physician Larry Nassar.
Attorney Mick Grewal, who is based in Okemos, Michigan, and is partnering with firms in Grand Rapids and California, said more than 30 accusers have retained their services. He said he expects the number to grow rapidly because assaults potentially occurred over a 30- to 50-year period.
Attorney Parker Stinar said his Denver-based firm already represents more than a dozen people, including three former wrestlers who encouraged others to come forward at a press conference Thursday.
Another former patient told The Detroit Free Press in a story published Friday that Anderson wrote letters certifying students were gay so they could avoid military service during the Vietnam War in exchange for sexual contact.
Ed Glazer told the newspaper he saw Anderson in 1969 after receiving a draft board notice. Glazier, who is gay, said friends had told him Anderson was willing to write letters certifying students as gay so they could avoid the draft if they would agree to have “personal contact” with the doctor.
Glazier said he saw Anderson at his clinic in the University Health Service office. He said the doctor removed his own pants, laid down on an exam table and began touching himself.
“I was taken aback. I was instantly nauseated and hyperventilated,” Glazier said. “He instantly stopped. He pulled up his pants and went back into his office.”
Glazier said Anderson gave him the letter. Glazier said he was deemed not qualified for military service after providing the letter during his draft board physical.
The newspaper said two other men reached out, independent of Glazier, with similar accounts. Those men did not want to be identified and have never spoken publicly about their encounters with Anderson.
Glazier, who is now 72, said he never reported Anderson and believed none of his friends had either.
“We all kept quiet, figuring that the contact and our silence was a price we were willing to pay to avoid military service,” he said.
Disclosure of the investigation also prompted concern that Anderson may have had a role at local schools. A police report suggests he performed sports physicals years ago.
The Ann Arbor school district said Friday that it had found no evidence Anderson was employed by or volunteered with the district. Superintendent Jeanice Swift encouraged any student “past or present” to contact the district or police if they have had a troubling encounter with any district employee or volunteer.
The Flint district said this week that it confirmed someone with Anderson’s name was an employee at some point, but “we do not have information about his employment history.”
“We encourage anyone with information regarding this matter to contact local law enforcement,” the district said.
Foody reported from Chicago.
Associated Press writer Ed White in Detroit contributed to this report.