University of Michigan reaches $490M settlement in sex abuse case

Jan 19, 2022 at 11:53 am
click to enlarge University of Michigan campus. - Shutterstock
University of Michigan campus.

The University of Michigan reached a $490 million settlement with more than 1,000 former students who said they were sexually assaulted by former football team doctor Robert Anderson.

The agreement, which was announced Wednesday, is one of the largest payouts by an American university to settle a sexual abuse case.

“We hope this settlement will begin the healing process for survivors,” Jordan Acker, chairman of the University of Michigan Board of Regents, told Metro Times in a statement Wednesday. “At the same time, the work that began two years ago, when the first brave survivors came forward, will continue.”

About 1,050 former students alleged they were sexually abused by Dr. Robert E. Anderson, who died in 2008 and was never prosecuted.

The allegations came to light three years ago when a former student told the athletic director in a letter that he was molested by Anderson nearly four decades ago. Since then, dozens of former students have come forward to allege they were sexually abused during physical examinations. Among the survivors is the son of legendary University of Michigan coach Bo Schembechler.

“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,” Jamie White, a lawyer for many of the victims, said in a statement. “The university should be commended and not condemned.”

In May 2021, a university-hired law firm concluded Anderson “engaged in sexual misconduct with patients on countless occasions.”

The University of Michigan said survivors would split $460 million, with $30 million going to students who launch future claims of abuse by July 31, 2023.

“This agreement is a critical step among many the university has taken to improve support for survivors and more effectively prevent and address misconduct,” U-M President Mary Sue Coleman said.

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