The University of Michigan is planning to develop a way outside the legal system to provide “more certain, faster relief” and privacy to those coming forward with claims of sexual misconduct against the late Dr. Robert E. Anderson.
The announcement, made Tuesday, comes two months after the first public accusation against Anderson, dozens of lawsuits have been filed against the university and a group of attorneys representing 100 more alleged victims filed legal notices they intend to sue.
“We want to bring closure for those who have so bravely come forward to share their experiences, said UM President Mark Schlissel. “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.”
Hundreds of victims have come forward with allegations against Anderson, who served as the director of the University Health Service and team doctor for the UM athletic department from the mid-1960s through 2003.
UM last week reported that 257 complaints regarding Anderson have been brought to the university as of April 23 through a hotline it established.
But not all lawyers representing former patients of Anderson have sued or said publicly that they plan to sue the university.
UM has been speaking with those lawyers as it has taken steps to address the allegations against Anderson, who died in 2008.
“The university is eager to continue this dialogue as it assesses over the next few months the best approach to resolving these claims,” Schlissel said.
The goal of creating a process outside the court system to resolve claims 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,” said UM Regents Chair Ron Weiser, who has said he was abused by Anderson in the 1960s while a UM student.
Many UM officials have said privately they want to address the allegations against Anderson in a way that differs from how Michigan State University handled sexual abuse allegations against the now-imprisoned Larry Nassar. More than 18 months passed before court hearings were held and 200 victims testified about Nassar’s abuse over nine days in two courtrooms.
After the first public allegation against Anderson came from Robert Julian Stone in February, a year-old UM police investigation emerged about claims against Anderson. It showed that one UM official fired the doctor in 1979 after sexual abuse claims against him. But Anderson’s tenure at UM lasted another 24 years.
Since the first public allegation, UM has apologized more than once. It established a hotline, set up free counseling for victims and hired WilmerHale to conduct an independent investigation though there was some controversy. University officials have also reached out to nearly 7,000 former athletes as part of the investigation.
UM has set up 855-336-5900 as a call line for the investigation that is staffed 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday- Frday. Officials say alleged victims can also reach out to WilmerHale at 877-428-9667 or UofM@wilmerhale.com.
To access counseling, alleged victims may call 888-961-9273.
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