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Lawyers Appointed to Lead University of Michigan Sexual Abuse Cases

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On Tuesday a Michigan federal judge appointed three attorneys to lead multiple lawsuits against the University of Michigan over alleged sexual assaults committed by a former sports doctor who worked at the school for decades. U.S. District Court Judge Victoria Roberts ordered E. Powell Miller of the Miller Law Firm, Annika Martin of Lieff Cabraser, and Joseph Sauder of Sauder Schelkopf appointed as interim class counsel.

The lawsuits claim the university was negligent in failing to address or investigate sexual assault claims against Dr. Robert Anderson dating back as far as the 1960s. Anderson worked at the University of Michigan from the mid-1960s through 2003, serving as head of the university’s health service. Anderson passed away in 2008.

Campus police only began investigating Anderson in 2018 following a letter athletic director Warde Manuel received from a former student-athlete. The letter reportedly detailed frequent instances of sexual abuse during medical exams conducted by Dr. Anderson in the 1970s.

50 unnamed plaintiffs have reportedly filed claims against the university and its board of regents since March of this year. The survivors — both students and student-athletes — allege the university ignored and actually made attempts to conceal countless reports of Anderson’s abuse over the years.

A release issued by the legal team of Lieff Cabraser stated, “We plan to seek recourse for all of Dr. Anderson’s victims — whether they choose to come forward or not — and ensure nothing like this can ever happen again at the University of Michigan. UM [University of Michigan] should not be able to use its secret claims program to avoid legal scrutiny and sweep its failures under the rug. We will ensure UM [University of Michigan] is held accountable through a transparent process overseen by the court that gives every survivor a voice and an opportunity to obtain justice.”

The university has reportedly started an independent investigation into the claims. Last month the school issued a statement declaring it hoped to settle the lawsuits. The statement also acknowledged some school employees were aware of the sexual assault allegations against Anderson prior to the 2018 letter received by Manuel. The University of Michigan did not oppose the motion for the appointments to the interim class counsel.