GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — One of the first survivors from West Michigan is sharing his story of alleged sexual abuse by the hands of the late University of Michigan Dr. Robert Anderson.
While most of the 800-plus survivors accusing Anderson of sexual abuse are former U of M athletes, JP DesCamp’s story sheds light on the group of pilots also coming forward with allegations of their own.
“My story is a bit different because I’m neither a student or athlete at the time of my experience with Dr. Anderson,” DesCamp said during a March 2020 press conference.
It was the first time DesCamp had publicly spoke of the abuse.
The now-retired pilot says he was 22 years old when he was sexually molested and abused by Anderson in 1973.
At the time, DesCamp had just landed a job working as a flight attendant for General Motors’ corporate air service, seeing it as his first step in pursing his childhood dream of becoming a pilot.
“I could get on airplanes, work on airplanes, get to know pilots,” DesCamp said.
A few months into the gig, DesCamp was sent to Anderson by his employer for a routine physical required to work as an in-flight crew member or pilot.
Halfway through the examination, DesCamp realized there was nothing routine about the visit.
Nearly 50 years later, DesCamp described in detail how Anderson sexually abused him during the exam.
“I couldn’t believe what was happening to me,” he said. “The pain was excruciating and my eyes were welling up with tears.”
DesCamp never saw Anderson again.
Traumatized by the idea of going to any doctor again, DesCamp put off his dream of becoming a pilot.
“He took away my innocence, he abused me, he used me for his pleasure … and he took away my spirit,” DesCamp said.
It took DesCamp 10 years to get the courage to see another doctor for a physical, saying it was the biggest hurdle he’d have to clear in getting his pilot’s license.
“It was the best day of my life,” DesCamp said. “I could pursue what I wanted to pursue, and I did.
DesCamp spent the next three decades in the air flying as a private pilot and then commercial.
At 70 years old, DesCamp said he’s sharing his story in hopes of making a difference as he stands alongside the 850-plus survivors in suing the university, claiming U of M was aware of the abuse but did nothing to stop it.
“It’s my duty to come forth and expose this because if I can save anyone from having an experience that I had, it’s all worth it,” he said.
Grand Rapids attorney Stephen Drew and his team are representing DesCamp and his fellow survivors in the case against the university.
Drew also represented survivors in the case against Michigan State University and its disgraced former doctor Larry Nassar. Drew said the sheer number of victims in this case is something he never imagined possible.
“When I was involved in the Nassar case, I literally did not think that I would see one that was more than the 530 (survivors) there,” Stephen said. “Maybe that was naive in my part.”
The University of Michigan released a statement earlier this month about the abuse allegations.
“Our sympathy for all of Anderson’s victims is deep and unwavering, and we thank them for their bravery in coming forward. We condemn and apologize for the tragic misconduct of the late Dr. Robert Anderson, who left the University 17 years ago and died 13 years ago,” the school said. “We are committed to resolving their claims and to continuing the court-guided confidential mediation process.”