Female victim comes forward to detail abusive exam by UM doctor
Novi — The first woman to publicly accuse former University of Michigan sports doctor Robert Anderson of sexual abuse came forward Tuesday, describing how the late doctor touched her sexually and made inappropriate comments about her breasts.
Cathy Kalahar, a former UM student and varsity tennis player in 1973, is the first woman to reveal her name and speak about an alleged assault during a mandatory sports physical. She said she told a UM official, who ignored her and said she was "simply having sexual fantasies,” said her attorney, Parker Stinar of Wahlberg, Woodrugg, Nimmo & Sloane in Colorado.
Her allegation, detailed during a press conference, comes after hundreds of other victims, mostly men, have accused Anderson of sexual assault.
“Anderson was abrupt, crude and mean,” Kalahar said. "I view (him) as a serial sexual predator with a network of cohorts who knowingly engaged in a cover-up ... ."
UM spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said that through June 18, there had been 383 unique complaints regarding Anderson that are being investigated by WilmerHale, the law firm the university hired to investigate allegations against the late doctor.
"We have nothing to share about (Kalahar's) specific claims while the WilmerHale investigation continues," Fitzgerald said.
During the exam when she was 18, Kalahar said, no nurse was present and she was instructed to fully disrobe. He examined her eyes and ears, and then her breasts.
Anderson commented on the "extremely large size of my breasts,” she said, and suggested that she have a surgical reduction.
“I was in shock,” she said, telling him that was something she would probably not do.
“His comments shocked and frightened me,” Kalahar said. "For months, I felt angry, hurt, depressed, ugly, confused and afraid. I sometimes crossed the street to stay away from that building where he worked."
He also put two fingers inside her vagina, she said, and made crude comments. “I wanted to disappear from the exam table and into the wall,” she said.
She remembered crying before leaving the room.
“I was in shock. I was scared,” she said.
Kalahar said she struggled with flashbacks, nightmares and panic attacks, and knows she was grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder.
A few months later, she saw a UM female therapist, whose name she does not remember. Kalahar told her what happened with Anderson.
“I waited for her to offer support,” Kalahar said.” I thought she would understand and would help me and together we could help protect others from this horrible doctor.”
Instead, Kalahar said the therapist didn’t believe her.
“She insisted what I told her were merely my fantasies and reflected my wish of what I had hoped from the doctor,” Kalahar said. “I was totally shocked. I was extremely confused that a woman therapist refused to believe me, that I had been sexually assaulted.”
Kalahar’s experience drove her to become a clinical psychologist, specializing in the treatment of children, youth and family violence. She is retired.
She was inspired to come forward after scores of men spoke out about Anderson’s abuse. Kalahar said she told her husband about what happened while victims detailed the crimes of former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar.
“Silence allowed Anderson to victimize hundreds of victims as he continued his university affiliation and (had) access to hundreds of athletes,” she said.
Since February, after Robert Julian Stone became the first to publicly accuse Anderson of sexual assault, hundreds of men have lodged allegations against the doctor, who was head of the University Health Service and team physician for the UM Athletic Department for decades. Anderson retired in 2003 and died in 2008.
The men have retained lawyers, called UM's hotline and spoken publicly, accusing Anderson of fondling them, giving them unnecessary prostate exams and sometimes involving them in masturbation while they were students. Accusers have included former Olympic wrestler Andy Hrovat, UM Regent Chair Ron Weiser and Chuck Christian, a former UM football player who is dying from prostate cancer because he said he refused to see a doctor due to Anderson’s alleged abuse.
Dozens of alleged victims have also sued UM in federal court in an effort to hold the university accountable and reach a settlement.
Lawyers representing alleged victims of Anderson say there are a handful of women they represent, including two Jane Does who have filed a notice to sue UM.
One of them is a former volleyball player who saw Anderson in 1982 and alleged that he “unnecessarily” fondled her breasts during a mandatory sports physical, according to legal documents.
Another Jane Doe claimed similar behavior by Anderson during a 1983 appointment when he allegedly made her fully expose her breasts during a breast exam and touched her genitals during a pelvic exam, according to legal notices.