Former athletes on Wednesday urged the University of Michigan’s governing board to launch a full investigation of sexual abuse committed by a late doctor and how the school failed to stop him during his decades on campus.
Standing near the school’s historic football stadium, they said a May report that detailed numerous complaints about Robert Anderson and the university’s failure to act was not enough.
‘So Board of Regents, so the University of Michigan — say my name,’ said Jon Vaughn, a running back from 1988-91 who was repeatedly assaulted. ‘Because the time is now for all of you who have been abused here to speak up for justice. We speak because every victim matters. I am not John Doe. I am Jon Vaughn.’
The May report concluded that legendary Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler and other officials were aware of complaints about Anderson, though he remained at the school for decades. Over 37 years, Anderson was credibly accused of hundreds of incidents of sexual abuse and harassment, mostly by young men, according to the report. He died in 2008, two years after Bo.
Anderson, the head of the school’s health services and a football team physician from 1966 until 2003, is accused of fondling players and giving unnecessary rectal exams. Others have said he gave out Vietnam War draft deferrals in exchange for sex acts. The cases are currently being mediated in federal court.
On Tuesday, Schembechler’s surviving family members defended him after one of his sons, Matt, and two former players came forward to claim the Hall of Famer refused to take action when they told him they were sexually abused by school physician Dr. Robert Anderson in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
‘If Bo had known of inappropriate conduct, we are certain that he would have stopped it immediately, reported it, and had Dr. Anderson removed from the University,’ Bo’s second wife, Cathy, his son, Glenn ‘Shemy’ Schembechler III, and Shemy’s wife, Megan told the Detroit Free Press in a statement.
Richard Goldman, formerly known as Plaintiff EB7, a former student sports announcer at the University of Michigan, speaks at a press conference on the University of Michigan campus on June 16, 2021 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Goldman and several dozen others are accusing the late Dr. Robert Anderson, former Head of University of Michigan Health Services and former UM football team doctor, of sexually abusing or sexually assaulting them. Matthew Schembechler, son of former Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler, and others have claimed they had notified Bo Schembechler about the abuse and that he had done nothing about it. Dr. Anderson passed away in 2008
Bo Schembechler’s surviving family members are defending the legendary University of Michigan football coach after one of his sons and two former players came forward to claim the Hall of Famer refused to take action when they told him they were sexually abused by school physician Dr. Robert Anderson in the 1960s, 70s and 80s
A recent report commissioned by the University said Bo and other officials were aware of complaints about Dr. Robert Anderson (pictured), though he remained at the school for decades. Over 37 years, Anderson was credibly accused of hundreds of incidents of sexual abuse and harassment, mostly by young men, according to the report. He died in 2008, two years after Bo. At Michigan, Anderson was the he head of University Health Services and a team physician from 1966-2003. He also worked as a training physician for the Michigan athletic department, beginning in 1968. Anderson is accused of fondling players and giving unnecessary rectal exams. Others have said he gave out Vietnam War draft deferrals in exchange for sex acts. The cases are currently being mediated in federal court
Wednesday’s news conference was held a day before Michigan regents hold a regularly scheduled public meeting by video conference. No action items involving Anderson were listed on the agenda.
Attorney General Dana Nessel has said she would only investigate if the school is willing and cooperative. She ended a probe of Michigan State University and its disgraced doctor, Larry Nassar, because the university refused to release certain documents.
In response to the news conference, the university repeated a statement that it is in private mediation with victims over financial settlements. It also said an investigative team from the WilmerHale law firm, which produced the recent report, had ‘full access to all available information.’
The university lately has noted to news media that Anderson left in 2004 and died in 2008.
‘Trying to hide in the passage of time doesn’t work. … The university doesn’t want transparency about Anderson and his accomplices whether they’re living or dead,’ said Tad DeLuca, a wrestler in the 1970s.
Matt Schembechler, son of former University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler, answers a question during a news conference on Thursday. Matt said his father refused to hear his abuse allegations against Anderson in 1969, when he says the doctor sexually assaulted him during a routine physical for his youth football team. Instead of reporting Anderson, Matt said, his father became so enraged that be punched the boy in the chest. ‘I hoped my father would protect me, but he didn’t,’ Matt said
DeLuca and hundreds of men said they were abused by Anderson during routine physicals or exams while he worked in campus clinics and in the athletic department. Anderson also was certified by the federal government to give physicals to pilots and air traffic controllers in southeastern Michigan, some of whom count themselves as victims.
The allegations against Anderson have been public for more than a year. But the scandal flamed anew with the release of the WilmerHale report, which included claims that legendary coach Bo Schembechler and athletic director Don Canham could have gotten rid of Anderson.
Bo’s son Matt, 62, spoke publicly about that abuse at a press conference on Thursday afternoon alongside two former Michigan players — Daniel Kwiatkowski and Gilvanni Johnson — who also were victims in the 1970s and ’80s.
‘Anderson’s abuse was the worst kept secret at Michigan,’ said Matt, who claimed he was abused by Anderson twice, beginning when he was just 10. ‘Anderson was able to continue this abuse for so long because he was supported by a culture that wanted to preserve the reputation.’
On Thursday, Matt said his father refused to hear his abuse allegations against Anderson in 1969, when he says the doctor sexually assaulted him during a routine physical for his youth football team. Instead of reporting Anderson, Matt said, his father became so enraged that be punched the boy in the chest.
‘I hoped my father would protect me, but he didn’t,’ Matt said.
Bo’s second wife, Cathy (left), his son, Glenn ‘Shemy’ Schembechler III (right), and Shemy’s wife, Megan told the Detroit Free Press in a statement that the Coach was unaware of abuse claims against Dr. Robert Anderson
Matt — who was adopted by Bo and his first wife, Millie — claims his father even fought to keep Anderson at the school.
After Bo refused to hear the accusations, Matt said he was told by his mother to inform the athletic director, Don Canham, whom he says was prepared to fire Anderson.
‘It was my understanding that Mr. Canham terminated Dr. Anderson, but shortly thereafter, Bo had him reinstated because he needed his team doctor and wanted to ensure Anderson remained part of the Michigan team.’
Canham died in 2005.
Richard Goldman, who was a student broadcaster in the early 1980s, said Wednesday that he was molested after Schembechler referred him to Anderson because of headaches. He said he told Schembechler and Canham what happened but blames the late athletic director for failing to take action.
‘Whatever one thinks of Bo Schembechler doesn’t matter,’ said Goldman, who felt Schembechler treated him like a son. ‘The employee went to the employer. The employer was Don Canham. He did nothing.’
Bo Schembechler with Millie Schembechler and son Shemy (year unknown)
Schembechler Hall on the University of Michigan Campus in Ann Arbor
Matt Schembechler said his mother invited the athletic director at the time, Don Canham (left), to their home so he could describe the abuse. The younger Schembechler told The Detroit News that Canham fired Anderson ‘nearly immediately.’ But that was not the end for Anderson at Michigan. ‘Bo went to him and said, ”I need him, he is our team doctor, reinstate him,” and he did,’ the 62-year-old Matt Schembechler told the News. Canham died in 2005, one year before Bo Schembechler. Anderson died in 2008. Schembechler is a revered figure in Ann Arbor, where his statue stands outside a football building named for him. The Wolverines won or shared 13 Big Ten football championships before he stepped down after the 1989 season
Some former players have come to Bo’s defense, including current Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who played quarterback for the Wolverines in the 1980s, and Jim Brandstatter, a former offensive lineman who went on to become an announcer.
Brandstatter had even started a petition with Change.org, but that now appears to be closed after getting support from only 182 individuals.
A lawyer representing former players and others who claim abuse by Anderson said Bo’s legacy at the school has been tainted, and the school may need to remove his statue and rename Schembechler Hall, an athletic department facility.
‘I think the vast majority of players either before [Bo], after him or during his course, believe that the statue needs to come down, believe the building needs to be changed, believe that his legacy is forever tarnished,’ Parker Stinar said Tuesday.
The report commissioned by the university and released last month says Schembechler was vividly told by at least four people that Anderson had molested them during routine physicals or other exams. Yet, the report says, he took no direct steps and even told one man to ‘toughen up.’
Michigan’s current coach, Jim Harbaugh, who played under Schembechler, backed him up last week in remarks to reporters. ‘He never procrastinated on anything,’ Harbaugh said. ‘He took care of it before the sun went down. That’s the Bo Schembechler that I know. There’s nothing that ever was swept under the rug or ignored’
In this January 2, 1987, file photo, Michigan head coach Bo Schembechler yells at quarterback Jim Harbaugh during the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game in Pasadena, California
Bo Schembechler of Michigan during their 22-15 loss to Arizona State at the Rose Bowl in 1987
SCHEMBECHLER FAMILY: WE ARE ‘CERTAIN’ BO WOULD HAVE STOPPED DR. ROBERT ANDERSON IF HE KNEW ABOUT THE ABUSE
The following is a statement given to the Detroit Free Press by the family of late Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler, including Bo’s second wife, Cathy, his son, Glenn ‘Shemy’ Schembechler III, and Shemy’s wife, Megan. Recently another of Bo’s sons, Matt, and several former players claimed that they told the decorated Coach they were sexually abused by school physician Dr. Robert Anderson in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, but Bo refused to take action and even fought to keep Anderson at the school. Cathy, Shemy, and Meghan insist those claims are untrue:
‘There are many ways to take the measure of a man, especially one as scrutinized as Bo Schembechler. You can judge him by his coaching record, the wins and losses give the illusion of a tidy summary. You could look at him by looking at the caliber of the people he surrounded himself with over his four decades of coaching, the teams, coaches, and staff who played for and worked with him, many of whom never fell out of touch with Bo. You could assess him through the testimonials of many of those individuals who have in recent days spoken out in defense of his memory and legacy. Perhaps you could get a sense of Bo Schembechler by talking to the hundreds — thousands more likely — of people whose lives were enriched by his enduring presence long after their playing days were over.
‘We, however, measure Bo Schembechler by different standards, as a devoted husband and a father. We remember him in those intimate family moments that pass unnoticed to others but are indelibly stamped in our memories. We remember him at moments of celebration shared with the world, but also during quiet moments of advice and counsel. We remember that — even during the height of the season — Bo would come home for dinner to share stories of what had happened to him that day and to ask about our days.
‘That Bo Schembechler was, and remains, deserving of our admiration and our love. It is telling to us that Bo never spoke to any of us about inappropriate behavior by Dr. Anderson. To the contrary, in our steadfast opinion, Bo was not aware of such conduct and assumed that any procedures were medically appropriate. As he demonstrated at many points in his career and to us as a family, Bo had a clear and compelling sense of right and wrong: he would not have tolerated misconduct, especially toward any of his players, family members, coaches or to anyone associated with the University of Michigan’s football program. If Bo had known of inappropriate conduct, we are certain that he would have stopped it immediately, reported it, and had Dr. Anderson removed from the University.
‘Some will argue that the absence of proof is not definitive in situations such as these, but it is noteworthy that a 240-page report done by an outside, independent law firm retained by the University to look into Dr. Anderson’s conduct examined similar allegations but did not substantiate those claims.
‘As painful as the last few days have been, we are confident the facts — and the truth — will ultimately win the day. We are confident that the veracity of each accuser will be examined, and that appropriate weight will be given to the sad reality that one of our family members has been for decades estranged from us and has on numerous occasions made unfounded and false accusations against Bo and other family members including pursuing legal actions that have been repeatedly rejected.
‘Bo Schembechler was father and husband. A devoted Christian. He was inspiring, demanding, loyal, a fierce defender of his extensive family and a taskmaster who pushed everyone around him to be better, to be the best version of themselves possible. He pushed himself harder than anyone. He believed in integrity, honesty and kindness; he despised dishonesty and cruelty. His accomplishments — and the positive impact he had in the lives of so many people around him — are examples to study and to emulate. We are grateful to everyone who has stepped forward to defend his memory. We are proud to bear his name and to bear witness for a life well-lived.’
Penn State University in 2012 removed a statue of the iconic coach Joe Paterno (right) who was accused of burying child sex abuse allegations against assistant coach Jerry Sandusky (left)
When the WilmerHale report was released, Bo’s son Glenn ‘Shemy’ Schembechler III expressed skepticism that his father ignored complaints about Anderson. He insisted that his dad would have acted if players had shared concerns about the doctor.
In response to the Schembechler family statement, lawyers for survivors of Anderson’s alleged abuse say it isn’t surprising to hear claims that the Coach never spoke about inappropriate behavior by the doctors. They noted Bo did not tell anyone of the abuse.
‘While it is understandable that they wish to erase the stain of the Anderson scandal from their family name, they cannot rewrite history. With each passing day, more victims are following the lead of Matt Schembechler and revealing the truth about what Bo and Don knew and when they knew it,’ said Mick Grewal and Stephen Drew, Anderson Survivor’s Legal Team attorneys.
Bo led the Wolverines from 1969-89 and won 194 games at the school. The Wolverines won or shared 13 Big Ten football championships during his career as coach. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
In a somewhat similar situation, a bronze statue of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was removed from outside the school’s stadium in 2012 after his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was convicted of child sexual abuse and an investigation accused Paterno and other former administrators of covering up complaints about Sandusky.
In a somewhat similar situation, a bronze statue of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was removed from outside the school’s stadium in 2012 after his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was convicted of child sexual abuse and an investigation accused Paterno and other former administrators of covering up complaints about Sandusky