Robert Anderson

Bo Schembechler
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Former player alleges in lawsuit Bo Schembechler knew of sexual abuse allegations at Michigan


Dozens of more victims who claim they were molested by a University of Michigan doctor filed a lawsuit against the school Thursday, including a former football player who said he told legendary coach Bo Schembechler about the abuse in the early 1980s.

It’s the first time that a victim has publicly said Bo Schembechler was aware of allegations against the late Dr. Robert Anderson, who worked at Michigan, especially with athletes, from the mid-1960s through 2003.

The university believes Anderson assaulted male athletes during routine physicals and injury exams. It has hired a law firm to investigate nearly 400 complaints so far while expressing a willingness to ultimately compensate victims.

“The shame doesn’t belong with survivors,” attorney Steve Estey said. “It belongs with the University of Michigan. And we intend to put the shame back where it belongs, with U-M for failing to protect its students and athletes.”

The latest lawsuit lists 53 victims.

A football player said he told Schembechler in 1982 and 1983 that he was sexually abused by Anderson during appointments for migraine headaches. He said the coach told him to immediately report it to athletic director Don Canham.

Schembechler was “visibly angry,” the man told reporters Thursday, adding that he went to Canham, who “did nothing.”

The man said he holds no grudge against Schembechler, who died in 2006, or his staff. The Associated Press doesn’t typically identify victims of sexual assault.

“I feel horrible for coach Schembechler. I will defend that man until my dying day,” the man said. “If they could have been able to come forward and stop this and throw Canham literally or figuratively against the wall and say, `This has to end,’ they would have.

“Times were totally different where one man was in charge. … Protecting the institution was what Don was all about. Protecting his good name was what Don was all about. Protecting his ego was what Don Canham was all about,” he said.

Other athletes have accused Canham of knowing about Anderson’s abuse. Canham died in 2005. Schembechler was coach from 1969-89.

“At the University of Michigan, we condemn all sexual misconduct,” spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen said in response to the latest lawsuit. “This type of conduct is reprehensible – and whether it takes place now or took place in the past, it is unacceptable.”

Trainer implicated in abuse scandal by former team doctor remains employed by Michigan

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Penn State had Jerry Sandusky. Michigan State had Larry Nassar. Ohio State had Richard Strauss. And now, it’s becoming increasingly, sadly clear that Michigan was aware it had a monster of its own in its midst and failed to stop him.

Dan Murphy reported for ESPN on Friday that Michigan’s current head athletic trainer Paul Schmidt knew of and joked about sexual abuse allegedly committed by Wolverines football team doctor Robert Anderson.

According to court documents obtained by Murphy, two anonymous Michigan football players testified that Schmidt and a second employee named “Murph” regularly told players to go see Anderson knowing full well of his reputation.

Anderson, who died in 2008, has been accused of sexually assaulting patients by performing unnecessary rectal exams and “excessive” fondling of patients’ genitals.

“It was always just, like, hey, go see Dr. A. Go drop your drawers. I specifically remember Schmidty’s laugh about it,” one of the players said. “Like I can see him doing it. Murph was a little more quiet. I definitely remember Schmidty laughin’ and cacklin’ about it.”

More than 300 individuals have retained legal representation in regards to Anderson’s alleged abuse, as the University of Michigan, its board of regents and Anderson’s estate brace for a barrage of lawsuits.

“The University of Michigan failed them,” attorney Mick Grewal said in a news release Friday morning. “Failed to protect them, failed to stop an alleged serial predator. We represent and have spoken with over 100 survivors, including professional and collegiate football players, wrestlers, golfers, hockey players, pilots, and people from all walks of life and the pattern is the same. Over the last 4 decades, multiple employees at the University, including Assistant AD Paul Schmidt could have stopped Anderson.”

The Detroit News reported in February that Anderson was fired for sexual abuse by the U of M’s University Health Service in 1979, but continued working for the athletics department for another 24 years.

“The university has confidence in the independent investigation now underway by the WilmerHale law firm,” university spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said Friday morning. “This firm has deep expertise to conduct a thorough and unflinching review of the facts — wherever they may lead.”

In the meantime, Murphy reported that Schmidt remains employed by Michigan. Schmidt has been at Michigan since 1986 and currently carries the title of assistant AD, head athletic trainer and rehabilitation specialist.