Judge rejects University of Michigan’s broad outreach in doctor abuse case

Andy Hrovat addresses the media during a news conference on Feb. 27 in Southfield. Hrovat is one of the University of Michigan wrestlers who were among the earliest to say he was abused by sports doctor Robert E. Anderson. (AP file photo)


Associated Press

DETROIT — A judge said Tuesday that she would order the University of Michigan to stop reaching out to alumni as part of its investigation of a doctor who is accused of molesting athletes and students for decades before his death in 2008.

U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts is overseeing lawsuits by victims of Dr. Robert Anderson. She agreed with attorneys who said it’s wrong for the university to communicate with people who could become plaintiffs in class-action litigation.

The university last week said it was sending emails or letters to more than 300,000 former students, asking them to share information that “may be helpful” in an investigation of Anderson being conducted by the WilmerHale law firm.

Anderson, a native of L’Anse, worked at Michigan from the mid-1960s through 2003. The university believes he assaulted male athletes during routine physicals and injury exams. It has expressed a willingness to compensate victims outside court with the help of a mediator. But at the same time the school is seeking to have lawsuits dismissed because too many years have passed.

President Mark Schlissel has said the WilmerHale report will be released publicly and without prior review by the university. Hundreds of complaints were being investigated before the recent mailings.

Roberts held a status conference Tuesday with lawyers who represent victims as well as lawyers from the Jones Day firm, who are defending the school.

E. Powell Miller, who was appointed to represent a potential class of victims, said any communication from the university was inappropriate.