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Michigan for illicit behavior supports Ohio’s medical case of the mirror

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – When the University of Michigan announced last week that allegations of 10-year sexual behavior by a sports doctor were under investigation, former wrestler Mike DiSabato was stunned by the parallels to an abuse scandal in his alma mater, in the state of Ohio.

The accusations of several people against Dr. Robert E. Anderson of Michigan immediately brought to mind the claims of DiSabato and hundreds of other men who introduced Dr. Richard Strauss to Ohio State. The two cases had striking similarities. Two doctors, both dead for years, are now accused of using their position to abuse male athletes and students.

Both men worked in athletics and student health, were appreciated for long periods and, at some point, focused on researching or treating genital disorders.

“It’s incredible, but absolutely credible,” DiSabato said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Former athletes said both doctors performed inappropriate or unnecessary tests. They said that some athletes joked and warned each other about the behavior, but they did not challenge him because they were embarrassed, uncertain about the medical need or unwilling to risk jeopardizing their place on a team. They remembered nicknames for doctors like “Dr. Jelly Paws” and “Dr. Drop your drawers.”

Former patients said they made the coaches or other officials aware of the concerns decades ago and didn’t get anywhere. Investigators claimed that both men were examined by state regulators in the mid-1990s, but the cases have been closed.

The accusations against Strauss and Anderson were brought to the attention of university officials by former wrestlers a few months later in 2018, but the resulting investigations and responses followed different timelines.

Ohio state initiated a school-funded investigation from a law firm in April 2018. Investigators concluded last year that Strauss sexually abused young men for nearly two decades, starting in the late years. ‘ 70, and that school officials failed to stop him. The university apologized and promised a “monetary resolution”, although federal lawsuits against the school remain unstable after months of mediation.

University of Michigan officials reported that campus police started investigating Anderson after a former wrestler notified the athletic director in July 2018 that he had been stroked during medical exams in the 1970s and told the his coach back then. After local prosecutors reviewed the investigation and found that criminal charges could not be authorized, the school announced Wednesday that an external investigation was underway by a law firm.

Those investigators are likely to encounter obstacles similar to those of the Ohio state investigation. Many years have passed. Memories are faded. The records may have been deleted and some employees or others with relevant knowledge may have died.

The president of the University of Michigan apologized on Thursday to “anyone who has been harmed” by Anderson.

While no one publicly defended Strauss, The Detroit News cited Anderson’s children who rejected the charges against his father. In a police report, former Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr was among respondents who claimed they hadn’t seen or heard of Anderson’s inappropriate behavior.

Meanwhile, some of Anderson’s prosecutors are investigating potential lawsuits, including Olympic wrestler Andy Hrovat, the first athlete to make public accusations for being mistreated by the doctor.

“It is clear that Andy has a complaint,” said attorney Michael Nimmo, part of the Denver-based law firm representing Hrovat. “There are federal and state laws that will protect him and all student-athletes who were in the same situation he was in regarding providing a safe environment for passing medical exams. We will examine it to the fullest. “

Another lawyer, John Manly, said that former Michigan athletes who report Anderson’s misconduct also contacted his company. Manly represented more than 200 victims in the abuse cases that led to ex-gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s prison and a $ 500 million deal by the state of Michigan.

MSU has abandoned a plan to investigate Nassar’s complaint handling and release a public report, upsetting the survivors who urged the new school president to re-launch the investigation.

Mishandling of Nassar’s complaints in the state of Michigan led to a federal fine of $ 4.5 million in September and a statement by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos that such behavior “should not be repeated, there or elsewhere”.

The DeVos department is also investigating whether the state of Ohio properly handled the news about Strauss. The agency would not confirm Friday if it has any investigation into Michigan and Anderson.

Universities dealing with these allegations face growing concerns about institutional trust after investigating misconduct in other schools and throughout the Catholic Church and boy scouts, said Peter McDonough, vice president and general counsel of the American Council on Education. .

“The public tends to perceive that the first step is to understand how to defend yourself as an institution or an individual,” said McDonough. “Higher institutions are not primarily concerned with defending these situations. It’s about figuring out what happened, or at least it should be. “

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Franko reported from Columbus, Ohio. Associate press authors Mike Householder of Ann Arbor, David Eggert of Lansing and Reese Dunklin of Dallas contributed to this report.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material cannot be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed without authorization.

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