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

1,050 survivors to share in settlement

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan shows Dr. Robert E. Anderson. The University of Michigan has agreed to a $490 million settlement with hundreds of people who say they were sexually assaulted by the former sports doctor at the school. Attorney Parker Stinar says Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, that 1,050 people will share in the settlement, which was reached the night before. (Robert Kalmbach/Bentley Historical Library University of Michigan via AP) (Robert Kalmbach, Bentley Historical Library University of Michigan)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The University of Michigan has agreed to a $490 million settlement with hundreds of people who say they were sexually assaulted by former sports doctor Robert Anderson.

Attorney Parker Stinar said Wednesday that 1,050 survivors will share in the settlement, which was reached the night before.

“I am proud to announce that a settlement was reached with the 1,050 survivors of Robert Anderson and the University of Michigan,” Stinar said. “It has been a long and challenging journey, and I believe this settlement will provide justice and healing for the many brave men and women who refused to be silenced.”

The university had been in mediation to resolve multiple lawsuits by mostly men who said Anderson sexually abused them during routine medical examinations. Anderson worked at the university from 1966 until his 2003 retirement and was director of the university’s Health Service and a physician for multiple athletic teams, including football.

“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. The university should be commended and not condemned.

“Most of our clients had a strong love for the university and did not want to see permanent damage, but wanted accountability. I believe we accomplished those goals yesterday.

“It is time for the Michigan legislators to look at why two of the largest scandals in the history of the country -- Larry Nassar and Robert Anderson -- happened at Michigan’s two largest universities. Other states have addressed this issue. It is time for Michigan leadership to do the same.”

Jamie White, attorney representing dozens of survivors in Anderson case

A report by a firm hired by the school determined that staff missed many opportunities to stop Anderson over his 37-year career.

“We hope this settlement will begin the healing process for survivors,” said Jordan Acker, chair of the University of Michigan Board of Regents. “At the same time, the work that began two years ago, when the first brave survivors came forward, will continue.”

The university regularly is ranked among the top public universities in the U.S.

The deal came just after two men who say they were sexually assaulted by Anderson called for a change in leadership with the weekend firing of university President Mark Schlissel that would allow the school be more accountable toward abuse victims.

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

More: Anderson abuse survivors call for new dialogue in wake of Schlissel’s firing at University of Michigan

Keith Moree and Robert Stone told reporters Tuesday that the Ann Arbor school is ripe for a culture change as its board conducts a search to permanently replace Schlissel, who was removed Saturday due to an alleged “inappropriate relationship with a university employee.”

Read: University of Michigan releases 118 pages of emails after vote to fire Schlissel

Amid Schlissel’s firing, the university released the following statement:

“The university is going to extraordinary measures to put critical protections in place on top of earlier protections. We continue to work with the nationally recognized consulting firm of Guidepost Solutions on additional measures.

“We have added new policies that prohibit teacher-learner romantic relationships, that prohibit supervisor-supervisee relationships and strengthened our policy against any type of retaliation. And are developing a cultural change process that was outlined last summer.

“Here is what was shared with our community last July:

“A campuswide working group on culture change will lead an effort over the next 18 months to ‘create an environment of mutual respect and accountability that is free from retaliation, where everyone can feel safe to report misconduct and feel supported throughout the process.’

“The work is being led by Patricia Hurn, dean of the School of Nursing, and Sonya Jacobs, chief organizational learning officer for the university and senior director for faculty and leadership development at Michigan Medicine.

“The working group will oversee the development of a universitywide statement of shared values and desired behaviors through a process that will include robust engagement with faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders across all three campuses and Michigan Medicine. This effort is part of the university’s work with the consulting firm Guidepost Solutions to create a set of unifying, shared values and set a lasting high standard for campus behaviors, systems and practices.

“Also, we are in the process of adding significant staff to the newly formed Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office, that will increase our prevention and education efforts while freeing up resources to focus sharply on investigating allegations of misconduct when they occur.

“We again thank all of the survivors of the late Dr. Robert Anderson for coming forward to share their stories. We have repeatedly apologized for the pain they have suffered and we continue to work toward fair compensation through the ongoing confidential, court-supervised mediation process.

“Much of this is shared on our website publicly here.

“Additionally, the Board of Regents has complete confidence in President Coleman to lead the university through this interim period.”

More: University of Michigan news

About the Authors:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.