01/19 13:04 CST U. of Michigan reaches $490M settlement over sexual abuse
U. of Michigan reaches $490M settlement over sexual abuse
By MIKE HOUSEHOLDER and LARRY LAGE
The University of Michigan announced a $490 million settlement Wednesday with
more than 1,000 people who say they were sexually assaulted by a former sports
doctor during his nearly four-decade career at the school.
The university said mediation led to the deal specifying 1,050 people will
share in the financial settlement, the latest in several large payouts made by
American universities following accusations of repeated sexual abuse by
Individuals and their attorneys will determine how to split $460 million, with
no input from the university, the school said in a statement. An additional $30
million will be set aside for future claims.
"We hope this settlement will begin the healing process for survivors," said
Jordan Acker, chair of the University of Michigan Board of Regents. "At the
same time, the work that began two years ago, when the first brave survivors
came forward, will continue."
Attorney Parker Stinar said the settlement was reached Tuesday night. The
university had been in mediation to resolve multiple lawsuits by mostly men who
said Dr. Robert Anderson sexually abused them during routine medical
"It has been a long and challenging journey, and I believe this settlement will
provide justice and healing for the many brave men and women who refused to be
silenced," said Stinar, who represents about 200 victims.
Tad DeLuca, the whistleblower whose letter to Michigan athletic director Warde
Manuel alleging sexual assault sparked an investigation into Anderson, told The
Associated Press is a telephone interview that he found no joy in the
settlement and worries that it will leave deeper issues unaddressed.
"The settlement is going to gloss things over so Michigan can go back to having
a glossy block `M' and look wonderful for the world," DeLuca said, referring to
the university's logo. "But the situation on campus is horrible."
Anderson worked at the university from 1966 until his 2003 retirement and was
director of the university's Health Service and a physician for multiple
athletic teams, including football. A number of football players and other
athletes have come forward to accuse Anderson, who died in 2008, of sexually
A report by a firm hired by the school determined that staff missed many
opportunities to stop Anderson over his 37-year career. The university
regularly is ranked among the top public universities in the U.S.
The deal came roughly two weeks after a state senator announced new bipartisan
legislation that would retroactively give the accusers a 30-day window to sue
the school for damages regardless of legal time limits and bar the university
from using the government immunity defense. The bills, which were poised for
introduction this week, were promoted as a way to provide the victims more
certainty and increase pressure on the school for a resolution.
Early this week, two men who say they were sexually assaulted by Anderson also
said they were hoping that a change in leadership with the weekend firing of
university President Mark Schlissel would allow the school to be more
accountable toward abuse victims.
Keith Moree and Robert Stone told reporters Tuesday that the Ann Arbor school
is ripe for a culture change as its board conducts a search to permanently
replace Schlissel, who was removed Saturday due to an alleged "inappropriate
relationship with a university employee."
The settlement with Anderson's victims is one of several agreed to by
universities following sex abuse scandals. They include Michigan State
University's agreement to pay $500 million to settle claims from more than 300
women and girls who said they were assaulted by Larry Nassar, who was a campus
sports doctor and a doctor for USA Gymnastics.
That settlement, announced in May 2018, was considered the largest at the time,
far surpassing the $100 million-plus that Penn State University has paid to
settle claims by at least 35 people who accused assistant football coach Jerry
Sandusky of sexual abuse.
Last year, the University of Southern California agreed to an $852 million
settlement with more than 700 women who have accused the college's longtime
campus gynecologist, Dr. George Tyndall, of sexual abuse.
Associated Press writer David Eggert contributed from Lansing, Mich.