University of Michigan sued days after $490M settlement of sexual abuse claims

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Just days after the University of Michigan announced a $490 million settlement to address sexual abuse claims against the late university sports doctor Robert Anderson, a federal lawsuit was filed Friday against the university by a man who alleges he was a victim.

The lawsuit was filed anonymously by a 79-year-old Michigan man who alleges he saw Anderson up to 1990. Anderson served UM from 1966 to 2003 as head of University Health Service and the team physician for the UM Athletic Department. He died in 2008.

Dr. Robert E. Anderson

More than a decade later, Robert Julian Stone approached UM and told school officials that Anderson sexually molested him during medical treatment while he was an undergraduate nearly 50 years earlier and coming out as a gay man. When he learned that UM police were investigating claims made by other men, he feared the university would bury the case so he shared his story in February 2020 with The News.

According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, the victim alleges he was sexually abused, harassed and tormented during medical examinations for 22 years by Anderson including anal penetration, unwanted and non-consensual touching of genitals for prolonged periods of time, inappropriate sexual remarks, lewd sexual comments including comments about endowment and sexual performance, inappropriate cupping of testicles, unwanted sexual touching, digital penetration and attempted digital penetration. 

On Wednesday UM agreed to a $490 million settlement with those who claimed they were sexually abused Anderson, ending one of the nation's biggest sex abuse scandals.

About 1,050 people, mostly men, will share in the settlement that covers allegations that began in the late 1960s and stretched over decades until the controversy publicly emerged two years ago. 

The settlement, which was first reported by The Detroit News, allocates $460 million for the approximately 1,050 claimants and $30 million for future claimants who choose to participate in the settlement before July 31, 2023. 

The university has paid $12 million to the WilmerHale law firm, which was hired by UM in March 2020 to conduct an investigation into Anderson that led to a 240-page report in May. The report concluded that UM officials knew as early as 1975 that Anderson had been accused of sexual misconduct.

It showed more than two dozen university employees were told about Anderson's alleged behavior over his nearly 40-year career. While several employees reported the doctor after learning of complaints, the majority of the people his patients told — including some of the most powerful people on campus — did not act to stop the doctor, the report found.