‘U’ seeks to resolve Anderson misconduct claims outside of court

Tuesday, April 28, 2020 - 12:40pm

University of Michigan announced intentions to resolve misconduct claims against late athletic director Robert Anderson outside of court.

University of Michigan announced intentions to resolve misconduct claims against late athletic director Robert Anderson outside of court. Buy this photo
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Since the late University of Michigan athletic doctor Robert Anderson was accused of several allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse during his career, the University has announced its goal to provide “more certain, faster relief” to his former patients in a process outside of the court system. 

In a press release on Tuesday, University President Mark Schlissel and Board of Regents Chair Ron Weiser announced a plan to address the decades old misconduct allegations by creating an extralegal process to help victims of Anderson’s misconduct. 

Prior to this, the University began addressing the sexual misconduct allegations with a University police investigation, as well as an ongoing outside investigation by the WilmerHale law firm. The University also set up a hotline number for victims to call and report Anderson’s abuses. 

“The University of Michigan is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for our students, faculty and staff,” Schlissel said. “Over the past several months, as claims of sexual misconduct have been brought forward by former patients of Anderson, the university has taken necessary steps to determine the extent of that misconduct.”

Schlissel said the reasoning behind creating a process independent of the court system is to bring relief and justice to Anderson’s victims. 

“We want to bring closure for those who have so bravely come forward to share their experiences,” Schlissel said. “The university recognizes the harms he caused and is committed to developing a fair, just, timely, and efficient resolution process — one that does not require drawn-out litigation.”

Weiser, who has publicly disclosed he was abused by Anderson as a student at the University in the 1960s, elaborated on the mission of creating this alternative resolution process without legal action. 

“(The purpose is) to provide more certain and faster relief for the former patients of Anderson outside of the court system while preserving their privacy to the greatest extent possible,” Weiser said.

University police began investigating Anderson’s misconduct in 2018 after a former University athlete Tad Deluca sent a letter detailing the alleged abuse to athletic director Warde Manuel. The Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office reviewed the findings from this investigation and the possibility of criminal prosecution. Steven Hiller, chief assistant prosecuting attorney, previously told The Daily why there was no potential for prosecution in this case. 

“There really was no viable avenue for any prosecution, in this case, because of the age (of the allegations) and because the suspect was deceased,” Hiller said. 

The University recently reached out to former athletes who may have been patients of Anderson’s during his time as a team physician and is offering free, confidential counseling to individuals who have been affected by his misconduct. 

John Manly, an attorney representing some of Andersons’ victims,  shared via Twitter that his clients hope the University will take action amid a history of inaction against allegations against Anderson. 

“Trust but verify” Our clients pray this is sincere,” Manly tweeted. “However too often this language is institutional speak for fractional justice & no change. Time will tell.”

Daily Staff Reporter Hannah Mackay can be reached at mackayh@umich.edu.