‘This is a day about the survivors’: Attorneys, University of Michigan comment on sexual abuse settlement agreement

U. of Michigan reaches $490M settlement over Dr. Robert Anderson’s sexual abuse

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.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The University of Michigan has agreed to pay $490 million to the victims of Dr. Robert Anderson.

The money will be paid to the 1,050 people who have come forward saying Anderson carried out the abuse throughout his nearly 40 years with the university.

“The fact of the matter is they (survivors) now feel like they’ve been heard. They now feel that they’ve been acknowledged,” said Attorney Ven Johnson.

Johnson represents 25 survivors, majority of them are men and are athletes who want to remain anonymous. He said Wednesday was an emotional and important day for those clients.

“It certainly takes most people a couple of days to really understand the magnitude and I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about the acknowledgement now, by the university that these people universally love and support to this day,” Johnson said.

Attorney Jamie White represents about 80 survivors.

“They were relieved. On our group Zoom a couple of nights ago, we had some anticipation that we might have some progress on a settlement. There was a certain sense of relief that we were getting here. Some of these guys are older, and some have passed away, some of my clients are estates at this point in time. So it was important to us, important to the court and in all fairness important to the University of Michigan that this get resolved sooner than later,” said White.

White also represented a number of Larry Nassar survivors and said this case is different, especially because a lot of the victims are men.

“Men are even less likely to report sexual assault than women according to statistics. A significant amount of these guys were African American men who were dropped into the University of Michigan at the age of 17, 18 in the 70s, and 80s and some even in the 90s when it was truly their only option to move forward,” White said.

As for what’s next, the university’s board of regents has to approve the agreement as well as the survivors. The court will also have to approve the settlement.

$30 million of the $490 million will be reserved for future accusers who come forward by July 31, 2023.

A third party will help lawyers divide the remaining $460 million for the survivors.

Board of regents chair, Jordan Acker said referred to the agreement as an important step towards healing.

“At the same time, our work is not complete. The board and administration plan to accelerate additional efforts to work toward a campus with a positive, nurturing and safe culture,” Ackers said.

Read: Chances were missed to stop U. of Michigan sexual abuse

About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.