ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) – Staff at the University of Michigan missed many opportunities to stop a doctor who committed sexual misconduct over decades at the school, a law firm reported Tuesday.
The long-awaited report by the WilmerHale firm, which was hired by the university, comes more than a year after former students publicly accused the late Robert Anderson of molesting them during routine physicals or other visits. Some university officials at the time took no action despite being aware of complaints.
The report confirmed that, especially in the athletic department.
“The fact that no one took meaningful action is particularly disturbing in light of the nature, scope, and duration of Dr. Anderson’s misconduct,” the report said in reference to athletics.
The university has acknowledged Anderson’s abuse but turned to the law firm for an independent, comprehensive review of what happened during the doctor’s long career. He died in 2008.
WilmerHale said 600 people made reports to the firm about their experiences with Anderson; 300 agreed to be interviewed.
Although most victims who have stepped forward or filed lawsuits have been men, the report said women were also abused.
“The medical experts we consulted confirm what many patients suspected: Dr. Anderson’s conduct was not consistent with any recognized standard of care and was, on the contrary, grossly improper,” according to the report.
The university said it received the report at the same time it was released publicly.
“We will work to regain the trust of survivors and to assure that we foster a safe environment for our students, our employees, and our community,” President Mark Schlissel and the Board of Regents said in a written statement.
The university has expressed a willingness to settle lawsuits out of court. A mediator is working with all sides.
A January court filing indicated there could be more than 850 victims, which would exceed the number of women and girls who were part of a $500 million settlement with Michigan State University over abuse by sports doctor Larry Nassar. Ohio State University has paid more than $45 million to 185 people who said they were groped by Richard Strauss, another sports doctor.