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Legendary coach Bo Schembechler' son Matt, players say coach knew of University of Michigan sexual abuse

Matt Schembechler, son of former University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler, answers a question during a news conference on Thursday in Novi. Schembechler described Thursday how he was molested and sexually assaulted by the team's longtime doctor and how his father turned a blind eye when he was told about the abuse. (AP photo)

By COREY WILLIAMS

and MIKE HOUSEHOLDER

Associated Press

NOVI — One of legendary University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler’s sons and two of his former players described in detail Thursday how they were molested by the team’s longtime doctor and how Schembechler turned a blind eye when they told him about the abuse, telling one to “toughen up” and punching his son in anger.

Matt Schembechler, 62, and former Wolverines players Daniel Kwiatkowski and Gilvanni Johnson told similar stories about how Dr. Robert E. Anderson, a L’Anse native who died in 2008, molested and digitally penetrated them during physical exams decades ago. They also talked about how Bo Schembechler, a Michigan icon whose statue stands outside a university building that bears his name, refused to protect them and allowed Anderson to continue abusing players and other patients for years.

Anderson “was supported by a culture that placed the reputation of the university above the health and safety of the students,” Matt Schembechler said during a news conference in the Detroit suburb of Novi. “That is the culture that made my father a legend and placed his statue in front of Schembechler Hall.

“Dr. Anderson was part of the University of Michigan team. He was part of Bo’s team, therefore, he was more important than any man. It’s very clear that Bo and the university always put themselves before any student-athlete or son, just to support the brand.”

The three are among hundreds of men who were allegedly abused by Anderson during his nearly four decades working for the university — a period in which he also treated staffers, their families and other patients. And their assertion that Bo Schembechler, who died in 2006, knew about the abuse and allowed it to continue calls into question his legacy at the university.

Kwiatkowski and Johnson said it was common knowledge among their teammates that Anderson abused players during the physicals they had to get from him, which Johnson said players jokingly referred to as “seeing Dr. Anal.”