The University of Michigan agreed to pay $490 million to more than 1,000 people who had accused a doctor who worked with football players and other students of sexual abuse. The agreement, among the largest ever by an American university to settle allegations of sexual abuse, was made public on Wednesday, more than three years after a former student wrote to Michigan’s athletic director and reported misconduct that dated to the 1970s, the New York Times reports.
That former student, and, later scores of others, said that Dr. Robert Anderson had molested them during physical examinations, many of which were required to participate in athletic programs. In some instances, Anderson performed examinations that were unnecessary and improper; he insisted on a pelvic exam for a woman who had complained of a sore throat.
Last June, a son of former football coach Bo Schembechler, said he had been one of Anderson’s victims.
“The University of Michigan has accepted responsibility financially and otherwise for harm that was caused by Anderson to so many young people that could have been avoided,” said Jamie White, a lawyer for many of Anderson's victims.
Last year, a law firm hired by the university concluded that Anderson, who died in 2008 and was never prosecuted for any abuse, had “engaged in sexual misconduct with patients on countless occasions.”
Universities have agreed to pay enormous sums to settle abuse cases. In 2013, Penn State said it would pay nearly $60 million to more than two dozen victims of football coach Jerry Sandusky. Michigan State University reached a $500 million settlement in 2018 to compensate victims of Dr. Lawrence Nassar. Ohio State University said it would pay $41 million to former athletes and other students who claimed they were assaulted by Richard Strauss, a team doctor for nearly 20 years. The University of Southern California agreed to pay more than $1.1 billion in connection with misconduct by a gynecologist, Dr. George Tyndall.