Michigan reaches $500M settlement in sexual abuse scandal

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The University of Michigan has settled for nearly $500 million with over 1,000 people who said they were sexually assaulted by Dr. Robert Anderson.

The $490 million settlement was officially announced on Wednesday and the money will be shared with 1,050 people. Michigan had been in mediation with attorneys for the myriad victims for months.

"The University of Michigan has accepted responsibility financially and otherwise for harm that was caused by Anderson to so many young people that could have been avoided,” attorney Jamie White said in a statement. “The university should be commended and not condemned.

"Most of our clients had a strong love for the University and did not want to see permanent damage, but wanted accountability. I believe we accomplished those goals yesterday.

"It is time for the Michigan legislators to look at why two of the largest scandals in the history of the country — Larry Nassar and Robert Anderson — happened at Michigan's two largest universities. Other states have addressed this issue. It is time for Michigan leadership to do the same."

Anderson, who died at the age of 80 in 2008, worked at Michigan for nearly 40 years from the 1960s through the early 2000s. His various positions in his time at the school included head medical doctor for the football team. Anderson's alleged sexual abuse was so widely known that he had become known by a nickname Dr. "Drop Your Drawers" Anderson.

An independent report by a law firm in May of 2021 said that Michigan officials failed to act on numerous allegations of sexual abuse by Anderson while he was employed by the school. Per the report, there were “at least 20” times when someone told a member of the university about Anderson’s misconduct. Multiple Michigan football players have said that they told former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler about what Anderson did to them.

Former members of the Michigan football team said over the summer that Anderson had sexually abused them. One of the men coming forward was Schembechler's stepson Matt.

A document from 1979 said that Anderson was supposed to be moved from the director of the school’s health service to a clinical instructor at the beginning of 1980 because of allegations of sexual abuse against him. He then continued to work for the school — and be the football team doctor — for over 20 more years.

A bill introduced in the Michigan state legislature earlier this month would allow Anderson’s victims to file lawsuits. The statute of limitations has expired for many of the crimes Anderson is accused of, but the state could create a 30-day window for victims to file suit. A similar provision was enacted in the state after former Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar was convicted of sexually abusing hundreds.

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