Sexual assault victims of university doctor protest outside University of Michigan board meeting
By MIKE HOUSEHOLDER
ANN ARBOR — Protesters, including some of the hundreds of people who survived sexual abuse by a University of Michigan sports doctor, gathered outside a meeting of the school’s governing board Thursday and called for more accountability by campus leaders.
Former football player Chuck Christian handed out T-shirts that read, “Hail to the Victims,” a reference to “Hail to the victors,” a famous lyric in the Michigan fight song.
“This man was a monster,” Christian told fellow protesters and reporters, referring to late Dr. Robert Anderson, a native of L’Anse.
“It’s therapeutic just being here,” he said, tearfully. “There are so many victims.”
Christian, who said he was assaulted by Anderson in the late 1970s, and others want the administration to further acknowledge what happened to them.
“You’re not taking any responsibility for what obviously had to be an institutional-enabled and complicit culture for one man to sexually abuse and rape people for four decades,” said Jon Vaughn, a former football player and Anderson victim.
Both Vaughn and Christian criticized their coach, the late Bo Schembechler, a legend at the school and in college football.
“Either he didn’t know and was incompetent on the off-the-field side of his team. Or he did know and he was complicit,” Vaughn said.
Christian said Schembechler “kept sweeping it under the rug.”
Schembechler’s son, Matt, has said he told his father that Anderson had assaulted him as a child. Another son, Glenn, does not think his father was aware that Anderson was doing anything unacceptable during exams.
Some Anderson victims spoke during the public comment portion of the Board of Regents meeting, the first time that the board had met in-person since the coronavirus pandemic began. Christian put a comforting hand on the shoulder of a man who got emotional as he addressed the group.
“To the survivors — we hear you, we value you,” board chairman Jordan Acker said. “And we thank you for sharing your stories.”
The university has acknowledged that assaults occurred. A report by a law firm hired by U-M found that officials failed to stop Anderson, especially in the 1970s, despite hearing about assaults. The university is in mediation with lawyers who are seeking a financial settlement for 800-plus people, mostly men.
Some who attended the protest Thursday were current Michigan students.
“This is our moment to show the University of Michigan and the world that we are powerful, we are strong, we have a voice and that voice will no longer be silent,” junior Porter Hughes said.