The University of Michigan has agreed to a $490 million settlement with more than 1,000 people who say they were sexually assaulted by a former sports doctor during his nearly four decades career at the school, university and individuals involved in the settlement, announced Wednesday.
The university said 1,050 people would take part in the agreement, which was brokered. Individuals and their attorneys will determine how to split the $460 million without the involvement of the university, the school said in a statement. An additional $30 million will be reserved for future claims.
“We hope this settlement will begin the healing process for survivors,” said Jordan Acker, chairman of the University of Michigan Board of Trustees. “At the same time, the work begun two years ago, when the first brave survivors came forward, will continue.”
Lawyer Parker Stinar said the settlement was reached on Tuesday evening. The university has mediated numerous lawsuits, mostly men, who allege that Dr. Robert Anderson sexually abused them during routine medical examinations.
“It has been a long and difficult journey and I believe this settlement will bring justice and healing to the many brave men and women who have refused to be silenced,” said Stinar, who represents about 200 victims.
Thad DeLuca, a whistleblower whose sexual assault allegation letter to Michigan’s athletic director Ward Manuel sparked an investigation into Anderson, took no joy in the agreement and said it would not solve larger problems.
“The settlement is going to spruce things up so Michigan can go back to glossy M block and look great for the world, but the situation on campus is terrible,” DeLuca said in a phone interview Wednesday morning.
Anderson worked at the university from 1966 until his retirement in 2003, was director of the university’s health service and physician for several sports teams, including football. A number of football players and other athletes accused Anderson, who died in 2008, of sexually assaulting them.
A report from a firm hired by the school showed that staff missed many opportunities to stop Anderson in his 37-year career.
The university is regularly ranked among the best public universities in the United States.
The deal came immediately after two men who say they were sexually assaulted by Anderson said they hope a change in leadership following the firing of university president Mark Schlissel over the weekend will allow the school to be more accountable to victims of abuse.
Keith Morey and Robert Stone told reporters Tuesday that the Ann Arbor school is ripe for a culture change as its board searches for a permanent replacement for Schlissel, who was fired on Saturday over an alleged “inappropriate relationship with a university employee.”
The settlement with Anderson’s victims is one of several negotiated by universities in the wake of the sexual harassment scandals, including an agreement by Michigan State University to pay $500 million to settle claims from more than 300 women and girls who said they were assaulted by Larry Nassar, who was a university town. sports physician, as well as US Gymnastics Physician.
The settlement, announced in May 2018, was considered the largest to date, far exceeding the more than $100 million that Pennsylvania State University had paid to settle claims by at least 35 people who accused assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky of sexual assault.
Last year, USC agreed to an $852 million settlement with more than 700 women who accused longtime college gynecologist, Dr. George Tindall, of sexual assault.