Former U-M doctor accused of misconduct exchanged sexual favors for Vietnam War exemptions, Free Press finds

Friday, February 28, 2020 - 3:49pm

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Max Kuang/Daily

Robert Anderson, the late University of Michigan athletic doctor whose sexual misconduct allegations were made public by the University last week, was revealed to have traded sexual favors for letters exempting young men from service in the Vietnam War. 

Gay men were excluded from service in the United States military until 1993 when former President Bill Clinton passed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, allowing homosexual participation in military service. The Free Press reported that Anderson was well-known in the gay community for issuing these formal exemption letters, attracting many young men to his practice as the draft was implemented. 

According to the Free Press, young gay men who received draft notices from the U.S. Selective Service went to Anderson to get official exemptions. While being examined by Anderson, many men alleged to the Free Press that Anderson inappropriately touched himself in front of patients to demonstrate how to check for venereal disease. These claims also state that Anderson encouraged a patient and his male friend to perform sexual acts in front of him in exchange for these letters. 

“I was taken aback,” Ed Glazier, one of Anderson’s former patients, told the Free Press. “I was instantly nauseated and hyperventilated.”

On Feb. 19, the University sent out a notice encouraging former patients of Anderson’s to contact an anonymous Compliance Hotline and come forward with any new allegations of sexual misconduct or abuse. The University initially launched an investigation into claims of sexual misconduct in 2018 after one of Anderson’s former patients wrote a letter to the University alleging abuse. The University made no criminal charges due to the fact that Anderson died in 2008. 

On Tuesday, University President Mark Schlissel released an update on numerous reports of sexual misconduct, including the case of Anderson. Schlissel said the University hired outside investigators Steptoe & Johnson to conduct the full investigation and that they want to hear from former students who may have experienced misconduct or abuse. 

“This investigation, being carried out by an outside law firm, follows a U-M Police investigation that identified five former patients who experienced sexual abuse from the 1970s to as late as 2002,” Schlissel’s statement reads. “Police investigators talked with dozens of witnesses and produced a 91-page report with more than 50 exhibits that already has been made available to the public in redacted form.”

Tad Deluca, former wrestler for the University, and other alleged survivors spoke out about their experiences with Anderson Thursday morning at a press conference in Southfield, Mich. Former University athletes and Parker Stinar, a lawyer with Wahlberg, Woodruff, Nimmo and Stone, called out the University for allegedly knowing about these claims of sexual misconduct and failing to take action. 

Previous reports also found University officials were aware of numerous past incidents of sexual misconduct regarding University Provost Martin Philbert and Anderson. 

In an email to The Daily, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the University is committed to a full investigation into these claims. 

“The university has engaged a firm with deep expertise to conduct an independent, thorough and unflinching review of the facts — wherever they may lead,” Fitzgerald wrote. “Through the work of this independent firm, there will be a full, public accounting of the harms caused by Anderson as well as the institutional failings that allowed him to keep practicing.”

Daily News Editor Liat Weinstein can be reached at weinsl@umich.edu