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U of M investigates doctor sex abuse claims

In this Jan. 20 photo, Robert Julian Stone looks over his medical records in his home in Palm Springs, Calif. Stone, a former University of Michigan student, alleges that the late University of Michigan Athletic Department physician Robert E. Anderson sexually assaulted him during a medical examination in 1971. (AP photo)

ANN ARBOR — Five former patients have alleged that a late University of Michigan physician sexually abused them during exams, with one accuser saying Dr. Robert E. Anderson’s actions over several decades made him a “sexual predator.”

A spokesman acknowledged that some university employees were aware of accusations against the doctor prior to a 2018 complaint that led to a police investigation.

“It is our understanding from the police investigation that there were rumors and some indication that U-M staff members were aware of Dr. Anderson’s inappropriate medical exams,” said spokesman Rick Fitzgerald.

Robert Julian Stone told The Associated Press that Anderson assaulted him during a medical appointment at the university’s health center in 1971. Stone said he alerted university officials last summer, inspired by the national #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct.

Stone was first interviewed by The Detroit News, which began reporting on the allegations before the university announced the investigation. Stone, who is 69, said he contacted the newspaper because he felt “stonewalled” by the university when he sought documentation on the investigation this year.

“Finally, the university has understood that this is something that needs to be addressed in a public fashion,” Stone said Wednesday, speaking hours after the university in Ann Arbor released a statement that an outside, independent investigation has been launched into the allegations against Anderson.

The former director of University Health Service was a team physician for various sports at Michigan from 1966 until his retirement in 2003. He was the football team’s physician for three-plus decades, working with coaches such as Bo Shembechler and Lloyd Carr. The National Athletic Trainer’s Association gave Anderson the President’s Challenge Award in 1988.

Anderson was from L’Anse and he died in 2008. The school said it has set up a hotline for others who have information to come forward.