University of Michigan: Abuse victim waited too long to sue

Nearly 300 complaints about doctor under investigation by law firm

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 said Tuesday, April 7, 2020, it is sending a letter to thousands of former student-athletes, asking them to speak with investigators from a law firm it hired to lead a probe into Anderson, a deceased doctor accused of molesting people going back decades. Many men say they were molested by Anderson while seeking treatment for various injuries. Anderson, who died in 2008, worked at the university for decades until his retirement in 2003. (Robert Kalmbach/Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan via AP) (Bentley Historical Library University of Michigan)

DETROIT – A former wrestler who claims he was sexually assaulted by a University of Michigan sports doctor waited too long to file a lawsuit, the school said Friday as it asked a judge to dismiss the case.

The university said it believes Dr. Robert Anderson assaulted athletes, and it wants to compensate victims. But it added that it's trying to avoid “drawn-out litigation” while a law firm investigates what happened during Anderson's decades in Ann Arbor. He died in 2008.

“The university is committed to grappling with those findings, whatever they may be, to ensure that nothing like this can ever happen again,” attorneys said in a filing in U.S. District Court.

In his lawsuit, a man identified as John Doe MC-4 said he was molested by Anderson during exams approximately 16 times, from 1987 to 1991. Hundreds of others have said they, too, were assaulted, some as far back as the 1960s.

“The university has great sympathy for what plaintiff suffered,” attorney Cheryl Bush said of Doe.

But in Doe's case, Bush noted that decades have passed since the last abuse, making the lawsuit untimely.

“The statutes of limitations and sovereign immunity prevent him from recovering damages in court. Plaintiff’s complaint should be dismissed,” she said.

Campus police began looking into Anderson in 2018 after a former athlete wrote to athletic director Warde Manuel about being sexually abused during medical exams in the early 1970s.

The university has acknowledged some employees were aware of accusations against Anderson before the 2018 complaint.

President Mark Schlissel this week said he wants to compensate people outside the court system. He was joined in a statement by Ron Weiser, chairman of the university's governing board, who has said he was molested by Anderson in the '60s.

Nearly 300 complaints about Anderson are being investigated by the WilmerHale law firm, university spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said Friday.

The firm's report will be released to the public, Fitzgerald said.


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