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The University of Michigan settles $ 490 million settlement with sexual abuse prosecutors

The University of Michigan has agreed to pay $ 490 million in compensation to the more than 1,000 former students, mostly men, who said they had been sexually abused by sports doctor Robert Anderson, their lawyers confirmed Wednesday.

The announcement came after 15 months of mediation and seemed to close the book on one of the country's biggest sex abuse scandals, which involved several generations of victims dating back to the 1960s.

"It's been a long and challenging journey, and I believe this settlement will bring justice and healing to the many brave men and women who refused to be silenced," said Parker Stinar of Denver-based law firm Wahlberg. , Woodruff, Nimmo & Sloane, who represent dozens of Anderson prosecutors.

Stinar said about 1,050 Anderson "survivors" will share the $ 490 million in settlement money, meaning each prosecutor will receive an average of about $ 438,000.

Thirty million dollars of this money will be set aside for future prosecutors.

Rick Fitzgerald, associate vice president of public affairs at the University of Michigan, confirmed a settlement.

"We hope this settlement will begin the healing process for survivors," Jordan Acker, chairman of the board of regents, said in a press release first obtained by the school newspaper, The Michigan Daily. "At the same time, the work that began two years ago when the first brave survivors emerged will continue."

The president of the University of Michigan, Mary Sue Coleman, agreed that the agreement, which still needs to be signed by the board and approved by 98 percent of the plaintiffs, is the right thing to do.

"This agreement is a critical step among many the university has taken to improve support for survivors and more effectively prevent and address abuse," she said.

The settlement was enacted with the help of court-appointed mediator Robert F. Riley and overseen by U.S. District Judge Victoria A. Roberts for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Anderson, who retired in 2003 and died five years later, was a former director of the University Health Service who also served as the best doctor for Michigan football teams led by coaches Bo Schembechler and Lloyd Carr.

Schembechler died in 2006. His son, Matt, claimed that in 1969 Anderson abused him as a 10-year-old and that his father refused to believe him. He said his mother, Millie, tried to get Anderson fired, but Schembechler got him reinstated.

The investigation was launched by a whistleblowing former wrestler named Tad DeLuca.

DeLuca said in 1975 he wrote a nine-page letter to his coach, Bill Johannesen, and then-athletics director Don Canham, describing what Anderson did to him repeatedly under the guise of medical examinations.

"There's something wrong with Dr. Anderson," DeLuca wrote in the letter. "No matter what you go in there for, he always makes you drop your drawers."

Anderson, said DeLuca, was commonly known as "Dr. Drop your drawers Anderson."

But Johannesen, DeLuca said, humiliated him for talking about Anderson by reading his letter aloud to the rest of the team before he was then knocked out of the team and lost his scholarship.

"The few minutes in front of my friends and teammates removed the coach from everything I had ever been," DeLuca later told reporters in February 2020.

Johannesen, who coached the Michigan wrestling team in the 1970s, previously told The Associated Press in a statement that no one ever directly reported any abuse from Anderson to him. Canham died in 2005.

Anderson, said DeLuca, was commonly known as "Dr. Drop your drawers Anderson."

DeLuca said he ended up being knocked out of the team. But DeLuca, a married father of three and retired teacher living in northern Michigan, did not give up.

Inspired by the female gymnasts at Michigan State University, who reported that they had been abused by sports doctor Larry Nassar, DeLuca reached out to the authorities again.

And in 2018, police in Washtenaw County, Michigan, launched an investigation into Anderson based on another letter that DeLuca wrote.

Steven Hiller, the county's assistant chief prosecutor, said no charges could be filed because Anderson was dead and none of the prosecutors alleged acts that fell within the state's six-year statute of limitations.

Nevertheless, the police investigation noted that employees in Michigan were "aware of rumors and allegations of misconduct" from Anderson.

In 2020, University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel apologized on behalf of the university to anyone who had been harmed by Anderson. And a year later, a law firm hired by the university to conduct an independent investigation concluded that U of M officials knew Anderson was abusing students and could have stopped him, but did not.

The Anderson case was repeated by Dr. The Richard Strauss scandal at Ohio State University, in which 350 men accused the university of failing to protect them from a predator.

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