FILE - This April 7, 2017 file photo, shows Burton Tower on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, Mich. Several former patients have alleged that Robert E. Anderson, a late University of Michigan physician, sexually abused them during exams going back decades, prompting the Ann Arbor school to ask others with information to come forward, officials said Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hunter Dyke/Ann Arbor News via AP, File)

University of Michigan investigates doctor sex abuse claims

February 19, 2020 - 11:38 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Several former patients have alleged that a late University of Michigan physician sexually abused them during exams going back decades, prompting the Ann Arbor school to ask others with information to come forward, officials said Wednesday.

The university said in a statement that an outside, independent investigation has been launched into the allegations against Robert E. Anderson, the former director of University Health Service and an athletic team physician. He worked at Michigan from 1968 until his retirement in 2003. He died in 2008.

The revelations echo high-profile sexual abuse allegations made against sports doctors at other North American universities. Hundreds of young women and girls said they were molested by former Michigan State University sports physician Larry Nassar, who was sentenced in January 2018 to up to 175 years in prison in the abuse. About 350 men have said they want to sue Ohio State University over their alleged abuse by the late Dr. Richard Strauss at that university decades ago.

A former University of Michigan athlete wrote to Athletic Director Warde Manuel in 2018 alleging abuse by Anderson during medical exams in the early 1970s. Subsequent interviews with dozens of other former students uncovered several more people who allege they suffered similar misconduct and unnecessary medical exams during that era as well as at least one incident as late as the 1990s.

"The allegations that were reported are disturbing and very serious," university President Mark Schlissel said in a statement. “We promptly began a police investigation and cooperated fully with the prosecutor's office.”

Officials say they are making the information public now following a determination Tuesday by the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office that no criminal charges would be authorized.

Schlissel added that determining who else might have been affected and getting additional information from them includes setting up what's being called a “Compliance Hotline” at 866-990-0111.

The outside review is being conducted the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Steptoe & Johnson.

At Ohio State, Strauss was accused of abusing students over nearly two decades beginning in the late 1970s. Since those allegations first arose in 2018, the school says it has learned of more than 1,000 instances of alleged sexual misconduct by the late doctor. At Michigan State, more than 300 victims said Nassar molested them under the guise of treatment for back problems and other injuries. Nassar also worked at USA Gymnastics and also saw athletes who were referred to him. He is serving what are effectively life sentences for child porn possession and sexually assaulting young women and girls.

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Karoub reported from Detroit.

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