02/20 23:18 CST Wrestler adds to abuse allegations against university doctor
Wrestler adds to abuse allegations against university doctor
By LARRY LAGE, DAVID EGGERT, KATHLEEN FOODY and MIKE HOUSEHOLDER
ANN ARBOR, Michigan (AP) --- An Olympic wrestler on Thursday accused a
University of Michigan doctor of touching him inappropriately during medical
exams at the school and said the physician's reputation for such conduct was
well known among his teammates.
Andy Hrovat, who competed for the U.S. in the 2008 Summer Olympics, told The
Associated Press that the encounters with the late Dr. Robert E. Anderson
happened during his freshman year in 1998.
"I would like to let people know that it's OK to come out," Hrovat said in an
interview from his attorney's office in Denver. "It's OK to let your voice be
He is the first athlete to make public accusations against Anderson following
complaints this week from other former students that the doctor sexually abused
them decades ago. The revelations echo high-profile sexual abuse allegations
made against sports doctors at other universities.
"I was warned about him from teammates, saying, 'If anything happens and you go
see the doctor, he's going to inappropriately touch you, that's just what Dr. A
does,'" Hrovat recalled.
He declined to describe the exam, saying he was uncomfortable talking about it.
"To me, the mental part of it of having to go in there knowing that this doctor
was going to touch you inappropriately is what sticks out most in my mind," he
Hrovat said he did not tell then-Michigan wrestling coach Dale Bahr or anyone
in athletic administration about Anderson's conduct.
"In my mind, he normalized what he was doing and made you think that was just a
normal part of the procedure," he said. "So why would you tell somebody?"
Also Thursday, the university president apologized to "anyone who was harmed"
by Anderson. His comment came a day after the school announced that it had
launched an investigation into Anderson's behavior following abuse allegations
from five former patients.
Another former student, Gary Bailey, told the AP that Anderson dropped his
pants and asked him to fondle his genitals in a medical exam during Bailey's
senior year in 1968 or 1969. Bailey said he filled out a complaint form to the
University Health Service within a month or so, writing that the behavior was
"I never heard anything about it ever again," said Bailey, now 72.
Officials have acknowledged that some university employees were aware of
accusations against the doctor prior to a 2018 complaint that led to a police
University President Mark Schlissel opened a meeting of the school's Board of
Regents Thursday by reading a prepared statement about Anderson, who died in
"The patient-physician relationship involves a solemn commitment and trust," he
said. "The allegations are highly disturbing. On behalf of the university, I
apologize to anyone who was harmed by Dr. Anderson."
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said Thursday that, since the
investigation was announced, 22 people have called a hotline to report on
interactions with the onetime director of the University Health Service and
physician for the football team. Fitzgerald said he did not have detailed
information about the individual callers or what they described. He said some
of the callers reported having no issues with Anderson.
"It was a traumatic thing at the time," Bailey said of his experience with
Anderson. While the abuse has not "ruined my life or anything, it may have
other people and that's why I'm bringing my story to light."
Bailey, who is gay, said Anderson "preyed a little bit on people who were gay
... because he sort of thought that they wouldn't say anything because, you
know, people were pretty closeted back then." He said he told friends about the
abuse decades ago.
Bailey, of Dowagiac, Michigan, first publicly spoke to The Detroit News.
Another man, Robert Julian Stone, told the AP on Wednesday that Anderson
assaulted him during a medical appointment at the university's health center in
1971. Stone said he alerted university officials last summer, inspired by the
national #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct.
The AP left phone messages with two of Anderson's three children. An email was
sent to the third seeking comment.
Fitzgerald said he could not elaborate on investigators' finding that some
university employees were aware of accusations against the doctor prior to the
2018 complaint that led to a police investigation.
John Manly, a lawyer for many of the hundreds of victims of now-imprisoned
former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar, said Thursday that
half a dozen people have called his California-based firm alleging abuse by
Anderson -- mostly ex-football players and wrestlers. He said they were fearful
of what could happen to their positions on teams or at the school if they
reported what he did to them.
"As men in their 30s up to their 60s, there is a real shame associated with
this," he said. "Most didn't speak up because they were concerned he wouldn't
clear them to play. And if you're not cleared by the doctor, you lose your
athletic scholarship. He had tremendous control. These at the time boys and
young men were subjected to this stuff knowing that if they said anything, they
were fearful he would retaliate."
Manly urged the university to ensure that alleged victims have a neutral third
party, either law enforcement or a counseling service, to call to discuss what
happened to them. He said he is concerned that the school has asked people to
reach out directly through the hotline.
"My experience has been that's much more about liability protection than
helping the victims," Manly said. "It's really important that one of America's
greatest universities act like it and treat these people not as adversaries but
as people that are injured and that deserve support. My fear is that's not
The university said the July 2018 complaint came from a former student athlete
who wrote to Athletic Director Warde Manuel alleging abuse by Anderson during
medical exams in the early 1970s.
Fitzgerald said he also could not answer questions about the scope of the
police investigation, including whether investigators reviewed Anderson's
resignation as head of the health service in 1980 or his retirement in 2003.
The university police department referred the AP to the university's Division
of Public Safety and Security for questions about the investigation. A
spokeswoman for the division did not immediately return an email with specific
questions about the investigation.
Washtenaw County prosecutors first received the police department's report in
late April or early May of 2019, said Steven Hiller, assistant chief
A prosecutor concluded that summer that no criminal charges could be authorized
because the primary suspect had died and none of the offenses were within
Michigan's six-year statute of limitations, Hiller said Thursday.
The university had said Wednesday in a statement that it was making the
information public following a determination on Tuesday by prosecutors that no
criminal charges would be authorized. Fitzgerald referred questions about the
discrepancy to the county prosecutor's office and did not immediately respond
to additional inquiries.
Foody reported from Chicago. Eggert reported from Lansing, Michigan.
Associated Press researchers Jennifer Farrar, Randy Herschaft and Rhonda
Shafner in New York and AP Writer Tammy Webber in Chicago and Kantele Franko in
Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.