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The late University of Michigan athletic doctor Robert Anderson, against whom allegations of sexual misconduct arose last year, has been accused of sexually assaulting a number of pilots, the Associated Press reported Saturday. Anderson was designated by the Federal Aviation Administration as a medical examiner in the southeast Michigan area for nearly 40 years. 

Anderson was the former team sports physician and worked at the University from 1963 until his retirement in 2003. He passed away in 2008. Multiple sexual misconduct allegations emerged against Anderson following a 2018 letter from a former U-M athlete detailing sexual harrassment from Anderson during medical exams in the 1970s. Since then, hundreds of former athletes and students have spoken up about their experiences with Anderson.

The University is currently negotiating with Anderson survivors, and one class action lawsuit has been filed representing hundreds of former patients. This class action complaint seeks to prosecute the University on behalf of all survivors. 

An anonymous former pilot who still lives in Ann Arbor told The Associated Press he received a medical exam from Anderson in 2000 in order to keep his pilot’s license. The man said his encounter with Anderson made him wary of visiting him again. 

“I was only 33; I probably didn’t need a prostate exam but I was naive,” the pilot said. “He examined my whole body like a dermatologist might. It was very creepy. It was too much. I didn’t go back. … You’re not touching me again.”

Anderson had his own pay system that was not affiliated with the FAA. When another doctor accused Anderson of violating FAA protocols, Anderson told the FAA he believed in a “complete examination” in a 1973 interview. 

“A few have left me because they have desired less of a physical exam than I am willing to give,” Anderson said.

Former military pilot J.P. Descamp, one of the first victims to speak out against Anderson, said in a March 2020 press conference he was sent to Anderson by his employer, General Motors, in 1973 for a standard physical exam to continue his flight duties. 

“I don’t wish to go any further with graphic details, but suffice to say, the continued probing, stimulation and painful testicular examination left me in a state of feeling highly vulnerable and taken advantage of,” DesCamp said.

Those representing the University and the lawyers bringing the class action suit are currently in mediation. This stage began in October and could take months to complete. 


Daily News Editor Jasmin Lee can be reached at itsshlee@umich.edu

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