Whistleblower in Michigan doctor sexual abuse case speaks

FILE - This April 7, 2017 file photo, shows Burton Tower on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, Mich. Several former patients have alleged that Robert E. Anderson, a late University of Michigan physician, sexually abused them during exams going back decades, prompting the Ann Arbor school to ask others with information to come forward, officials said Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hunter Dyke/Ann Arbor News via AP, File)
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Victims of alleged sexual abuse by the hands of a University of Michigan doctor held a press conference on Thursday in hopes of more victims coming forward.

"Regardless of what you go in there for, he always makes you drop your drawers," was read aloud by lawyer Parker Stinar with Denver-based Wahlberg, Woodruff, Nimmo & Sloane.

It was from a letter from the whistleblower on this case.

"Nearly four decades ago they (U of M) knew about 'drop your pants Anderson."

On Wednesday Stinar announced that his firm was representing more than a dozen people in the University of Michigan sexual abuse case and would hold a news conference with the whistleblower and two other former wrestlers to share their allegations about the late Dr. Robert E. Anderson on Thursday.

“Different victims will be able to come forward and request that the University of Michigan accepts accountability for decades upon decades of these allegations,” said Stinar.

Stinar said a former Wolverine wrestler from the 1970s would be among the speakers at the news conference. The man, was Tad Deluca. Parts of a letter he has kept that detail his previous complaints about Anderson and correspondence he received from the university were read aloud.

He said he was kicked off the team and lost his financial aid after complaining he had been physically abused by a sports doctor.

Also at the news conference was former Olympic and Michigan wrestler Andy Hrovat, the first athlete to publicly say Anderson touched him inappropriately. Hrovat also said last week the physician’s reputation for such conduct was well known among teammates two-plus decades ago.

The letters referenced by Deluca have been in the hands of the university since 1975. He said he sent another letter in the middle of the Nassar investigation as well because he was inspired by those brave women.

“Once again, the University of Michigan ignored me. I will not be ignored again,” said Deluca, a retired teacher in northern Michigan. “Everybody who was abused by this doctor — the doctor everyone knew was doing this, abusing athletes and students — should speak up. It has to stop.”

“Every victim that we’ve spoken with wants the university to be held accountable,” Stinar said. “And equally if not more important, wants to spread awareness so that one voice isn’t silenced until it gets to 100. But that first voice is heard and actions are taken to prevent this from happening ever again.”

Details of the abuse were outlined in the letter from Deluca. He said that he told his coach, and his teammates, "Something's wrong with Dr. Anderson, regardless of what you go in there for he always makes you drop your drawers." He said if you went in for an elbow or a shoulder injury that you always had to drop your pants. He said in the letter that the doctor would handle his penis and testicles, and check his rectum with a gloved hand which was not necessary for the injury.

"University of Michigan...time's up," is how he ended the letter.

Stinar said, “We know that he (Anderson) was also involved with football, track and field and hockey in addition to wrestling. We’ve been in contact with a number of different athletes beyond just the wrestling team as well as individuals that were not affiliated with the University of Michigan, as far as being athletes, but saw Dr. Anderson in a private University of Michigan clinic.”

The revelations echo high-profile sexual abuse allegations made against sports doctors at other universities.

Last week, the university’s president apologized to “anyone who was harmed” by Anderson and offered counseling services. The school says it has started an investigation into Anderson’s behavior following abuse allegations from five former patients.

Officials have acknowledged some university employees were aware of accusations against the doctor prior to the whistleblower’s 2018 complaint that led to a police investigation.

“We have engaged an external firm to investigate a number of questions related to Dr. Anderson,” school spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said.

WATCH THE PRESS CONFERENCE HERE

Copyright 2020 WILX. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.