Abuse allegations, calls for state inquiry build in Michigan
YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — More men came forward Thursday with allegations of sexual abuse by a late doctor at the University of Michigan, as the state’s attorney general insisted that the school must commit to cooperating with her office before she would move to begin an independent investigation.
The new allegations include four men who filed lawsuits against the school saying that Dr. Robert Anderson sexually assaulted them while they were members of the football, hockey and wrestling teams in the 1980s. At a news conference, two others said Anderson molested them during medical exams.
The university, located in Ann Arbor, revealed last month that it was investigating multiple allegations of abuse against Anderson, who died in 2008. Last week, it said it had received more than 100 complaints.
The lawsuits accuse the university of failing to remove Anderson despite multiple complaints about him. All identify the accusers only as John Doe.
Separately, two men spoke at a news conference in Ypsilanti to detail their own allegations.
JP DesCamp said said he saw Anderson for a physical required by his job as a pilot in 1973 and that the doctor had him lie on an exam table without underwear while he touched his genitals and rectum.
DesCamp said he left the office “feeling highly vulnerable and taken advantage of” but never discussed it with anyone. DesCamp said he later learned that co-workers refused to see Anderson because “word about Dr. Drop-your-drawers Anderson was out.”
Michael Connelley, a former student, said Anderson abused him “for years” during medical exams at the university’s Health Service. Connelley said the first time was when he saw Anderson for a sore throat.
The university’s president has apologized to “those who were harmed” by Anderson, and officials have acknowledged that some campus employees were aware of accusations against the doctor before a 2018 complaint that led to a police investigation.
Anderson worked at the university from 1966 until his retirement. His decades-long career included serving as director of the university’s Health Service and a physician for multiple athletic teams, including football. Campus police found that complaints spanned much of Anderson’s time at the school, up to 2002.
One of the men suing Thursday said he was a member of the football team from 1980 to 1985. Another man’s lawsuit identified him as an All State football player in high school who was a member of the Michigan team from 1981 through 1985. The third lawsuit was filed on behalf of a man who was on the hockey team from 1983 until 1984.
Their allegations mirror those in another lawsuit filed Wednesday.
“In one illustrative example, plaintiff recalls being told to see Anderson when he had strep throat, and during this appointment, Anderson violated plaintiff with digital anal penetration and genital fondling,” one of the lawsuits filed Thursday said.
A fourth lawsuit filed on behalf of a man who was a college wrestler from 1988 to 1991 said Anderson fondled his genitals at least 16 times during medical exams.
Multiple attorneys for men accusing Anderson of sexual abuse have called on Michigan’s Attorney General Dana Nessel to open her own investigation into the physician and the university’s actions.
Nessel said Thursday that she would welcome a request from the university to investigate but first asked for a commitment of full cooperation, including waiving all privilege over documents and other information. She also said the Legislature should commit to funding an investigation.
“University of Michigan regents, if you’re listening to me right now, hear what I’m telling you,” Nessel said. “We’re happy to come in, we’re happy to have a completely objective, non-biased investigation.”
Messages seeking comment were left with a spokeswoman at the University of Michigan and the eight members of the board of regents.
Nessel said her insistence is rooted in the office’s experience while investigating Michigan State University. Amid public pressure, the school’s board of trustees in 2018 asked Nessel’s predecessor to investigate the university’s handling of allegations made against former sports doctor Larry Nassar.
Three former school officials were charged based on the investigation. But Michigan State refused to waive attorney-client privilege, Nessel said, denying investigators access to thousands of documents.
“The last thing we want to do is give people false hope that we’re going to be able to truly explain exactly what it is that occurred, when we know there’s no way we are going to be able do that if the university’s not going to cooperate,” she said.
Robert Stone, the first man to speak publicly about allegations of abuse against Anderson, said he was disappointed in Nessel.
John Manly, an attorney for more than 50 accusers, said Nessel’s approach is reasonable, but he still wants her office to investigate. Manly, who represented many of Nassar’s victims, said University of Michigan regents should quickly agree to Nessel’s request.
“What happened here was a 30-year lie,” Manly said. “The best and brightest of this state was savaged by Dr. Anderson and we know people in the university in positions of power knew and did nothing.”
Nessel later tweeted that her office’s authority “to conduct an investigation is limited” because Anderson is dead and criminal acts by potential aiders and abettors or co-conspirators could not be prosecuted due to the statute of limitations.
Eggert reported from Lansing and Foody reported from Chicago. Associated Press writer Mike Householder contributed.