UM police detective who investigated Dr. Robert Anderson being reassigned to road patrol

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

University of Michigan police Detective Mark West — whose investigations played a key role in exposing decades of alleged sexual abuse by university doctor Robert Anderson — is being reassigned as a road patrol officer and having his pay cut, The Detroit News has learned.

West was the lead detective investigating Anderson, the now-deceased UM sports doctor accused of sexually assaulting hundreds of male student-athletes, gay men and some women during his tenure from 1966-2003.

West’s work helped lead to about 850 accusers coming forward to say Anderson molested them and unearthed evidence that several UM leaders were allegedly aware of the doctor’s alleged behavior but failed to stop him. 

University of Michigan Det. Mark West

Reached by telephone Tuesday, West confirmed that he is being reassigned from detective duties to a road patrol officer in September.

West said he viewed the change as a demotion since he will lose 3% of his $79,000 salary, or about $2,370. He said he was informed of the change last week.

West said he knew it was a rotating position when he took the job about six years ago but said generally detectives haven't been rotated. At least two detectives in the department have held the rank longer than him, he noted, and he is aware of just one detective who went back to road patrol. The others retired or were promoted, he said. 

The 51-year-old has 27 years with the department.

"I can’t really talk about how I feel about it," said West, 51. "I want my job."

One reported victim who spoke with West during the criminal investigation said he admired the detective's approach in investigating Anderson.

"He was a sterling example of a dedicated and compassionate law enforcement professional," said Robert Julian Stone, the first man to publicly accuse Anderson.

"It’s retaliatory," said Stone. "He exposed things (the university) didn’t want exposed and now he is paying a price."

UM Deputy Police Chief Melissa Overton said the university was "absolutely not" retaliating against West for his role in investigating Anderson.

"We always rotate our detectives," said Overton, the department spokesperson. "It is not any kind of demotion. We rotate all the time with all of our positions."

Overton said she could not comment directly on West's case since it is a personnel issue. But she said the department's 67 sworn officers are split up into various units, including more than 10 in the detective unit, and rotating positions have a three-year minimum post.

Former Michigan State University Police Chief Jim Dunlap, who retired in 2019, said it is not uncommon for law enforcement agencies to have a policy that rotates staff in and out of investigative units. MSU's police department has a policy that is similar to UM's, he said.

"That is a common policy," Dunlap said. "Most investigators have a two- or three-year rotation ... If somebody was in the middle of an investigation, we wouldn't rotate them out."

The official photo of team physician Dr. Robert Anderson from the 1992 University of Michigan football media guide.

West began his investigation of Anderson in 2018 when former UM wrestler Tad DeLuca wrote a second letter to the university and alleged Anderson had assaulted him when he was a student in the 1970s. A previous letter written in 1975 by DeLuca to coach Bill Johannesen and assistant wrestling coach Cal Jenkins complaining about Anderson was never acted upon, so he wrote another one years later after being inspired by the women and girls who took down former sports medicine doctor Larry Nassar at Michigan State University.

More than two dozen UM employees were alerted to reports of sexually inappropriate behavior by Anderson, reports that could have stopped the doctor who is accused of molesting more than 800 men, according to a report by the WilmerHale law firm released earlier this year. 

Although the report did not estimate the total number of alleged victims, UM is currently in mediation with about 850 accusers. 

MSU elevated MSU Detective/Lt. Andrea Munford for her work in leading the criminal investigation into Nassar, the former MSU sports doctor who sexually assaulted hundreds of female athletes and is now serving an effective life prison sentence.

Munford is a member of the MSU Police Department’s Special Victims Unit. Following Nassar's imprisonment, she began leading training sessions around the country on how to investigate from a victim-centered approach. Munford is also a special adviser to MSU President Samuel Stanley, Jr. on issues related to relationship violence and sexual misconduct and a member of MSU’s Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Expert Advisory Workgroup. She received several national awards for her work on the Nassar scandal.

West's work included two separate investigations and interviews with dozens of victims and UM officials, including former UM Associate Vice President for Student Services Thomas Easthope. Easthope said he became aware of Anderson's behavior in 1979 and attempted to fire him. He testified in a 2020 deposition that he was overruled by his boss, Vice President for Student Services Henry Johnson, overturned the decision to terminate Anderson.Easthope has since died, and Johnson is being represented by a lawyer hired by UM. 

West's initial investigation did not emerge until February 2020, days after Stone accused Anderson of sexual assault when he was a student and shared his story with The Detroit News out of concern that the allegations would not become public.

West began working at UM in 1994 after serving in the Air Force. He has been a bike patrol officer, a field training officer, a K9 officer and provided security for UM basketball coaches and the basketball team during his career with the department.  

kkozlowski@detroitnews

Twitter: @kimberkoz