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Survivors of late University of Michigan doctor’s abuse confront Board of Regents face-to-face

‘This wasn’t medical treatment that had gone astray, it was rape’

The survivors of Dr. Robert Anderson’s abuse addressed the University of Michigan Board of Regents Thursday.
The survivors of Dr. Robert Anderson’s abuse addressed the University of Michigan Board of Regents Thursday.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The survivors of Dr. Robert Anderson’s abuse addressed the University of Michigan Board of Regents Thursday.

Read: ‘This man was a monster’ -- Survivors of late U-M doctor’s abuse address Board of Regents for first time

More than 900 victims are now involved in the lawsuit against the university. The lawsuit alleges sexual abuse at the hands of Anderson, who was employed at the university from 1966 through 2003.

Several of the former patients who have come forward -- most of them athletes -- were in Ann Arbor Thursday to finally see members of the university face-to-face.

The mix of survivors had strong feelings regarding Anderson and they allege that had someone listened to them, it could have been stopped had Tad Deluca’s 1975 letter to athletic director Don Canham been heeded.

“He spoke out when no one else would. When coaches weren’t doing anything, administration wasn’t doing anything -- Tad spoke out for us,” said Chuck Christian

Deluca deflected that sort of praise, knowing how much pain other survivors suffer.

“When he came up, the full effect of what sexual assault can do to someone became obvious,” Deluca said. “I’m still upset about Chuck.”

The full effect is what Deluca refers to is about what Christian is going through currently. Christian stopped seeing doctors after Anderson, which led to a prostate cancer diagnosis that might have been avoided.

“They weren’t able to get rid of the prostate cancer so I still have cancer in my body. I’m still struggling with that. Nobody knows how much time I have left. I’m enjoying every day I get because I don’t know how much time I got,” Christian said. “It’s all because of this monster. This monster that Don Canham knew about but didn’t do anything about. That Bo Schembechler knew about but didn’t do anything about.

Thursday was a day for all of those who have come forward to share that anger in person with with Board of Regents.

“This sadistic exam -- under the guise of a full medical examination -- robbed me of my dignity and my desired career,” said Jeffrey Deskamp.

It is not enough to say as you have that you are sorry for what Anderson did to us many years ago. That would suggest the university does not share in the blame.

Board chair Jordan Acker told the survivors the university are working to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Read: ‘We’re no longer going to be silent’: Survivors of late U-M doctor’s abuse to attend regents meeting to demand answers


About the Authors:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.