ANN ARBOR, Mich. – After sexual misconduct allegations against a now-deceased University of Michigan doctor came to light recently, the school has been flooded with calls from people saying they were abused by him.
Robert E. Anderson, was a former director of University Health Service and a former athletic team physician. He worked at the school from 1968 until his retirement in 2003. He died in 2008.
Documents reveal that university officials allegedly knew that Anderson was fondling patients more than four decades ago, yet the doctor continued to practice.
An Olympic and former Michigan All-American wrestler is the latest person to accuse Anderson of touching him inappropriately.
Andy Hrvoat said he was a freshman at the university in 1998 when he went to Anderson.
“From my experience, going into there [an exam with Dr. Anderson], you freeze up because you already know going in something weird is going to happen,” he said.
He said Anderson had a reputation for abusing athletes during exams.
“My teammates were like, 'Oh, when you go see Doc A, he’s going to, no matter what happens, you go in there, he’s going to make you take your pants off and he’s going to fondle you. The physical touch is very brief, but the mental component of it lasts for a long time,” Hrovat said.
The alleged experiences were deeply troubling for Hrovat, who said he was also victimized as a child prior to the exams with Anderson.
“I was preyed on as a child basically from preschool to fifth grade by my second grade teacher and I never told anybody,” he said.
A University spokesperson said the University received 22 calls on Wednesday alone after creating a hotline to report cases of alleged sexual abuse with Anderson.
“That’s not even the tip of iceberg -- that’s just the snow falling on top of the iceberg, and it’s going to come out and it’s going to be hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people," he said.
Denver Trial Lawyers is representing Hrovat. The law firm has been in contact with several alleged victims of the late doctor.
“What I’ve been told [by the alleged victims] is that Dr. Anderson allegedly, when patients would come in for minor symptoms, whether it’s a sprained ankle or a twisted thumb or cauliflower ear, or a cold, would frequently perform unnecessary examinations from testicular exams to rectal examinations,” said Parker Stinar, Hrovat’s attorney.
Though critics have been questioning why people are coming forward decades later when Dr. Anderson has already passed, Hrovat and his attorney said it's important to hold university officials accountable for the alleged actions in the past to make sure it doesn't happen in the future.
“It’s just so disgusting and it needs to end. Hopefully if enough victims come forward across the country, there should be appropriate policies and procedures to prevent this from happening to any other child,” Stinar said.
“The more things that come to light, the more parents and even children can become educated and say it’s not right when someone does X, Y, and Z,” Hrovat said.
On Friday, another former University of Michigan student who reported in 2018 about the alleged abuse came forward saying he complained at the time to his wrestling coach and the school’s Athletic Director about the sexual abuse, according to documents released by the Prosecutor’s Office.
The University of Michigan is asking any former patients of Anderson who believe they were subjected to sexual misconduct during a medical exam to contact the U-M Compliance Hotline at 866-990-0111.