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Accusers of Dr. Robert Anderson call for transparency, accountability at UM

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

The University of Michigan Board of Regents faced people who accuse former doctor Robert Anderson of sexually assaulting them face to face for the first time in 18 months Thursday.

Former University of Michigan wrestler Tad DeLuca, left, poses for a selfie with Chuck Christian, right, a former UM football player on the 1981 Rose Bowl championship team, as Christian openly cries before the school's Board of Regents meeting on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. Both allege they were sexually assaulted by the late, former UM doctor Richard Anderson.

Before the meeting started, a crowd of about 100 people, including about 30 who say Anderson assaulted them, gathered outside the university's Richard L. Postma Family Clubhouse in the rain Thursday, carrying signs and listening as men accusing Anderson of sexual abuse spoke one by one. Five men spoke during the public comment period of the meeting, some speaking longer than the three minutes they were allotted, and others choking up as they talked about Anderson's abuse.

Among them was Vincent Washington, who said the memories of Anderson still eat at him and hijack the good time he had at UM. He also spoke of the lessons taught to him by former UM football coach Bo Schembechler.

"When you make a mistake, admit it. Make it right," Washington told the regents.

The accusers demanded transparency and accountability from the university ahead of a meeting.

"This man was a monster," said Chuck Christian, one of the men who has accused Anderson of sexual assault. "Enough is enough is enough is enough and Hail to the victims!"

Jonathan Vaughn, another accuser, said they were not there for an apology.

"If we are going to be the leaders and best, if we are truly are going to be victors, we need to eradicate this cancer that is pervasive in the University of Michigan," said Vaughn. "The only way we can do it is to speak the truth."

Ten Anderson accusers sued the university earlier this month over the board's policy that limits the number of people who can offer public comment at meetings. Regents cap the number of speakers who can talk about a specific topic to five.

Accusers of former doctor Robert Anderson gather before the University of Michigan Board of Regents meeting on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021.

Both sides agreed to dismiss the case Tuesday, court records show. Parker Stinar, one of the lawyers for the accusers, said he could not talk about why they agreed to dismiss the case. UM spokesman Rick Fitzgerald declined to give a reason as well.

Allegations about Anderson emerged in February 2020 began in Michigan.

Mediation between the university and about 850 people, mostly men, has been underway since October.

Anderson, as director of the university's health service and team physician for the athletic department over more than three decades, is accused of giving prolonged hernia checks, unnecessary prostate exams and engaging in masturbation during exams, earning him the nickname "Dr. Drop Your Drawers Anderson." He retired in 2003 and died in 2008. He is accused by former football players, other university athletes, patients from his medical practice and pilots who saw Anderson for physicals. 

Jeffrey DesCamp tells the regents of the University of Michigan at a board meeting on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021 that he was assaulted by former school doctor Richard Anderson during a physical exam required of pilots.

UM has apologized and offered counseling to Anderson's accusers.

Investigators and UM-sanctioned reports showed the university missed multiple opportunities to stop the doctor.

Regent Jordan Acker told those in attendance that all board members would like to speak to the men and women who say they were assaulted by Anderson but lawsuits prohibit that from happening. He said UM is committed to becoming a campus that is free from sexual violence.

"We hear you, we value you," Acker said. "Thank you again for sharing your stories."

kkozlowski@detroitnews.com