Victims of doctor sue University of Michigan over public speech limit

FILE - This file photo, date and location not known, provided by the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan, shows Dr. Robert E. Anderson. Former University of Michigan football players and others who say they were sexually abused by a now-deceased team doctor are expected to call for action by the University of Michigan's board as the legacy of the school's gridiron coach is being questioned over what he knew. The group has planned a news conference Wednesday June 16, 2021, in Ann Arbor, Mich. (Robert Kalmbach/Bentley Historical Library University of Michigan via AP, File) (Robert Kalmbach, Bentley Historical Library University of Michigan)

ANN ARBOR – Sexual assault victims sued the University of Michigan on Thursday over a policy that limits the number of people who can offer public comment at meetings of the school’s governing board.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of people who said they were molested by Dr. Robert Anderson during his decades as a campus physician. They said they were denied an opportunity to address the Board of Regents at a July meeting.

The university caps the number of speakers at each meeting and further limits the number of people who can talk about a specific topic, according to the lawsuit.

Regents have been meeting by video conference during the COVID-19 pandemic but the policy is older, the lawsuit states.

There was no immediate comment from the university.

Hundreds of men say they were molested by Anderson while he served for decades as a university doctor. The university has acknowledged that assaults occurred and is in mediation to settle lawsuits. Anderson died in 2008.

Attorney Parker Stinar said it’s “traumatizing” to deny the victims an opportunity to speak at a public meeting.

“They were powerless against their abuser and now they feel powerless against the university,” Stinar said.

A report commissioned by the university found that officials were aware of allegations against Anderson, especially in the 1970s, but failed to act.