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U-M President, Board of Regents issue statement on reports of sexual misconduct

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel (Photo: Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy)
University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel (Photo: Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy)

ANN ARBOR – University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel and the school’s Board of Regents issued a statement Tuesday addressing sexual misconduct on campus as fresh allegations mount against a now-deceased doctor who worked at the University for decades.

Dr. Robert E. Anderson worked at the University from 1968 until his retirement in 2003. He died in 2008. An investigation into allegations against Anderson began in October 2018 when U-M athletic director Warde Manuel received a letter from a former wrestler detailing abuse at the hands of Anderson in 1971.

The matter was made public for the first time last week.

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As allegations continue to mount, the school’s leadership released a statement detailing how they are addressing the situation with an external investigation, that there is no basis for criminal charges in Anderson’s case and that free counseling services are available to those affected by Dr. Anderson and U-M provost Martin Philbert, who is currently on administrative leave over separate allegations of sexual misconduct.

Read the full statement below:

February 25, 2020

At the University of Michigan, we condemn all sexual misconduct, especially instances that occur under the purview of our public mission. This type of conduct is reprehensible – and whether it takes place now or took place in the past, it is unacceptable.

All members of our community – students, faculty and staff – deserve to feel safe and supported. We must remain vigilant in encouraging reporting, listening carefully to former patients who come forward and supporting all those who have been affected by sexual misconduct.

Today we want to underscore the clear and decisive actions we have taken regarding the allegations of sexual abuse reported by patients of the late Dr. Robert E. Anderson, a former director of University Health Service and U-M athletic team physician.

This is a commitment we make jointly with the university’s Board of Regents.

First, through an independent, external investigation team, the university will conduct an unflinching review of the facts – wherever they may lead – and will then provide to the public a full accounting of the harms caused to former patients by Anderson as well as any institutional failings that allowed him to keep practicing. We promise to fully respect the privacy and confidentiality of witnesses as we do this.

This investigation, being carried out by an outside law firm, follows a U-M Police investigation that identified five former patients who experienced sexual abuse from the 1970s to as late as 2002. Police investigators talked with dozens of witnesses and produced a 91-page report with more than 50 exhibits that already has been made available to the public in redacted form. Anderson retired in 2003 and died in 2008.

This police investigation was carefully reviewed by the Washtenaw County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which determined there was no basis for criminal charges against anyone. We are taking this additional step, beyond a criminal investigation, to understand all of the facts and provide public transparency.

Since asking former patients to call the university’s Compliance Hotline to share additional information or to arrange counseling services, numerous people have made reports. We strongly encourage anyone who may have been affected by Anderson to contact the Compliance Hotline (866-990-0111) or the outside, independent law firm, Steptoe & Johnson, based in Washington, D.C. Investigators can be reached directly at (202) 419-5162 or UofM@steptoe.com.

Second, as announced last week, the university is offering counseling services at no personal cost to anyone affected by Anderson. We want these individuals to get the assistance and support they need to facilitate the healing process.

The university is in the midst of engaging a national counseling firm to coordinate this care with local counselors in communities where these individuals now live. We are working diligently to have these confidential services in place in the coming days and our provider will reach out to offer these services individually. No contact with the university will be required.

Additionally, we will be making the same offer of counseling services to anyone affected by reported misconduct by Provost Martin Philbert, who remains on administrative leave while allegations of sexual misconduct are investigated. No contact with the university will be required.

We have no greater responsibility than to advance the highest standards of conduct and to uphold the trust of the public and the members of our community who choose to study, work or seek care at the University of Michigan.

Mark Schlissel

President

And

The University of Michigan Board of Regents

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