Wrestler adds to abuse allegations against UM doctor

Larry Lage, David Eggert, Kathleen Foody and Mike Householder
Associated Press

Ann Arbor — An Olympic wrestler on Thursday accused a University of Michigan doctor of touching him inappropriately during medical exams at the school and said the physician’s reputation for such conduct was well known among his teammates.

Andy Hrovat, who competed for the U.S. in the 2008 Summer Olympics, told the Associated Press that the encounters with the late Dr. Robert E. Anderson happened during his freshman year in 1998.

Andy Hrovat during an interview about his experience with doctor who has been accused by several former students of molesting them during medical exams at the University of Michigan. The interview was conducted at his attorneys firm on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020 in Denver.

“I would like to let people know that it’s OK to come out,” Hrovat said in an interview from his attorney’s office in Denver. “It’s OK to let your voice be heard.”

Hrovat is the first athlete to make public accusations against Anderson following complaints this week from at least six other people that the doctor sexually abused them decades ago.

The Detroit News first reported Wednesday that UM was investigating claims of sexual abuse by Anderson, a former director of the University Health Service who also spent years as a top physician for football teams by former coaches Bo Schembechler and Lloyd Carr. The university, The News reported, was alerted to the allegations against Anderson in July 2018.

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The AP left phone messages with two of Anderson’s three children. An email was sent to the third seeking comment.

USA's Andy Hrovat, right, wrestles Cuba's Reineris Salas in a 84 kilogram freestyle match at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008.

John Manly, a lawyer for many of the hundred of victims of now-imprisoned former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar, said Thursday that half a dozen people have called his California-based firm alleging abuse by Anderson, mostly ex-football players and wrestlers. He said they were fearful of what could happen to their positions on teams or at the school if they reported what he did to them.

Iranian wrestler Reza Ramazanzadeh, gold medalist, top right, and U.S. wrestler Andy Hrovat, silver medallist, top left, pose for photographers with Iranian deputy of sports Ali Kaffashiyan, left, during the Takhti Wrestling Cup in Tehran, Iran on Friday, May 23, 2003.

“As men in their 30's up to their 60's, there is a real shame associated with this,” he said. “Most didn’t speak up because they were concerned he wouldn’t clear them to play. And if you’re not cleared by the doctor, you lose your athletic scholarship. He had tremendous control. These at the time boys and young men were subjected to this stuff knowing that if they said anything, they were fearful he would retaliate.”

Manly urged the university to ensure that alleged victims have a neutral third party, either law enforcement or a counseling service, to call to discuss what happened to them. He said he is concerned that the school has asked people to reach out directly through the hotline.

“My experience has been that’s much more about liability protection than helping the victims,” Manly said. “It’s really important that one of America’s greatest universities act like it and treat these people not as adversaries but as people that are injured and that deserve support. My fear is that’s not happening.”

Foody reported from Chicago. Eggert reported from Lansing.

Associated Press researchers Jennifer Farrar, Randy Herschaft and Rhonda Shafner in New York and AP Writer Tammy Webber in Chicago contributed to this report.