The University of Michigan has agreed to pay $490 million to more than 1,000 athletes who were sexually assaulted by a former football team doctor.
The school will pay the victims of the late Dr. Robert Anderson, according to several reports. The agreement was reached Tuesday.
“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,” James White, attorney for the defendants, reportedly said. “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.”
The victims will determine how the settlement is split, according to White.
The total settlement for 1,050 victims is $460 million, and the other $30 million will be set aside for other potential victims who did not join the lawsuit but may come forward later.
The University of Michigan Board of Regents said it “hope[s] this settlement will begin the healing process for survivors.”
The school did not return a Wednesday comment request from The Michigan Star.
Anderson was said to have abused the students after he began serving as the team doctor in 1960. A few athletes in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s came forward to complain about the abuse, but no action was taken.
Anderson was also a doctor for the wrestling team, and had a reputation as an abuser. Student-athletes called him “Dr. Drop Your Drawers,” and he was known for giving unnecessary testicular and rectal exams to victims who came to him for unrelated maladies.
The case is reminiscent of that of Dr. Larry Nasser, who was employed as a sports doctor at Michigan State University, and as USA Women’s Gymnastics team doctor.
In 2017, he pleaded guilty to seven charges of sexual assault against women’s gymnastics athletes, for which he was sentenced to a minimum of 40 years, and up to 175. Later that year, he was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison after being convicted of possessing child pornography.
Nassar was said to have abused more than 500 victims. More than 150 of them made statements during his trial. Michigan State University later paid $380 million to Nassar’s victims.
Michigan State University did not return The Star’s request seeking comment on the University of Michigan settlement.
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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Michigan Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “University of Michigan Football Game” by University of Michigan.