Ann Arbor — More than a year after sexual misconduct allegations against former Dr. Robert Anderson emerged publicly, several Anderson accusers gathered Wednesday near Michigan Stadium, including one man who says he was assaulted by Anderson and told then-Athletic Director Don Canham for the first time in 1981.
Richard Goldman was a student sports announcer for the football program in the 1980s and spoke about his claims anonymously in July after filing a lawsuit against the college.
He revealed his identity on Wednesday and told The Detroit News ahead of a press conference that he reported abuse by Anderson to Canham in 1981, 1982 and 1983. He said he first told Bo Schembechler of the abuse in 1981, and said the legendary former UM coach told him, “Get your a– in Don Canham’s office right now.”
He said Canham didn’t respond to his first complaint that year and laid the blame for Anderson’s alleged decades-long abuse of hundreds of people on the now-deceased athletic director.
Asked why he chose to come forward by name, Goldman, 60, and now living in Coral Springs, Florida, said, “It’s time. There’s been too many circuses, there’s been too many games. There’s too many things that have been going on, regarding let’s say Bo Schembechler, his family, his son. The circus has to come to an end.
“There’s only one thing that matters here, and that’s the name of Don Canham. Because Don Canham, when I went to him in 1981, ’82 and ’83, especially 1983 after the last incident with Dr. Anderson that I had, that comes to end right now.
“Why? Because of the fact that it was Canham the entire way. Don Canham could have ended this is in the 1960s, 70s, he didn’t, but he could certainly have ended it in 1981, ’82 or ’83 when I was a broadcaster in the university and I confronted him. The last time that I confronted him when I went to his office and slammed his door after what Anderson tried to pull on me, and said, ‘You’ve done nothing for two years.’ His comment back to me was, and I hope you don’t mind my swearing, his exact words were ‘Go f— yourself.’ ”
Goldman’s claims add to the narrative alleging that Schembechler, who died in 2006, and Canham, who died in 2005, were among the first UM staff to know about Anderson, whom players claim routinely touched them inappropriately during sports physicals and treatments for other ailments. But Anderson continued to work at the university until his retirement in 2003.
“When I left Canham’s office and literally slammed my hand on the door – on the wall outside Schembechler’s office — he came out to me and said, ‘What just happened?’ When I told him, he went in and slammed Canham’s door and read him the riot act. That’s how I knew that Bo — who was the employee — was taking on his employer, who was Don Canham. None of this matters. Bo Schembechler, you want to blame him? You can’t. He was the employee.”
Anderson is the former head of University Health Service and team physician for the UM Athletic Department. He served from 1966-2003 and died in 2008. He is accused of genital fondling, unnecessary prostate exams and other inappropriate behavior.
Joining Goldman at the news conference were former UM and professional football player Jon Vaughn and Tad DeLuca, a former UM wrestler and the first man to alert UM about Anderson when he was a student in the 1970s and then later as an adult. Both men have previously spoken about Anderson publicly.
“I stand here with my brothers and sisters,” said DeLuca. “We are not just victims of Robert Anderson. But perhaps more importantly, we are victims of an institution that failed us for more than four decades, an institution that continues to intentionally fail to accept accountability for its decades of failures and coverups.”
UM has apologized for what Anderson did, DeLuca said.
“No one has apologized for that the university did,” said DeLuca.
Vaughn, who said he was “ruthlessly raped” by Anderson 45 times while he was a UM student and football player from 1988-91, called for accountability, transparency and a full investigation from UM.
“Today we go from victims who suffered abuse to survivors who take action,” said Vaughn. “We will speak because every victim matters.”
The men called on the UM Board of Regents to request that state Attorney General Dana Nessel conduct an investigation and to agree to release all records related to Anderson to Nessel’s office.
The university released in May a report by the WilmerHale law firm that was commissioned by UM showing the university failed to heed reports about Anderson.
“The University of Michigan is actively engaged in a confidential, court-guided mediation process with the survivors of Dr. Anderson’s abuse and we remain focused on that process,” UM said in a statement Wednesday.
“The WilmerHale investigation team had full access to all available information; they decided what to review and what to consider. Their report made it clear that many survivors required confidentiality as a condition for speaking.”
Cathy Kalahar, the first woman to publicly accuse Anderson of sexual misconduct, told The News in July that when she was a varsity tennis player in 1973 Anderson touched her sexually and made inappropriate comments about her breasts. She said she told a therapist at UM health services, who didn’t believe her and accused her of having sexual fantasies about the doctor.
She drove from her home in Harbor Springs to attend the news conference to support those who spoke, she said.
“They’re not taking any responsibility,” Kalahar said of UM officials. “They are blaming Anderson when they participated in the coverup. To me, that is worse.”
Defenders of Schembechler insist he was not aware of Anderson’s misconduct.
“Bo was not aware of such conduct and assumed that any procedures were medically appropriate,” said a letter issued Tuesday by Cathy, Glenn and Megan Schembechler, Bo’s wife at the time of his death, and his son and daughter-in-law, respectively. Radio play-by-play voice Jim Brandstatter and other former players have defended Schembechler.
In February 2020, Robert Julian Stone lodged the first public accusation against Anderson, saying the doctor dropped his pants and grabbed Stone’s hand and put it on his penis.
UM is currently in mediation with about 850 accusers of Anderson.
Colorado-based lawyer Parker Stinar said legal proceedings began in October but federal rules prohibit him from saying any more about the negotiations.
“We wouldn’t have been here today if there was a resolution,” said Stinar.
The claims that Schembechler knew about Anderson have prompted questions about whether a bronze statute of the famous coach outside of Schembechler Hall on UM’s Ann Arbor campus should remain.
UM Regents declined to speak to The News about the controversy over the statue. Joe Paterno’s bronze statue was removed in 2012 at Pennsylvania State University amid the child sex abuse scandal there involving Jerry Sandusky.
Schembechler’s son, Matthew, came forward last week, along with former UM football players Daniel Kwiatkowski and Gilvanni Johnson. They said they were sexually assaulted by Anderson during exams and told Schembechler.
“People need to see a face with what’s going on,” said Johnson. “I felt like I needed to come out and let people know the fact that people are saying that Bo didn’t know. He did know … I told him myself. And our relationship from that point went downhill.”
“We still have people — kids, women — being abused and scared to come forward,” Johnson continued. “Until we as a community, as a county, until we get behind those victims and let those victims know we are with them, this culture is going to continue.”
Matthew Schembechler told The News he told his father in 1969 that Anderson sexually molested him during a physical examination to play in a youth football league when he was 10. The elder Schembechler, who was coaching his first season, went into a rage, told him he didn’t want to hear about it and punched Matthew in the chest so hard that he flew across the kitchen floor, his son said.
Now 62, Schembechler said his mother invited Canham over to their house so he could tell Canham what happened with Anderson.
“(Canham) talked to Anderson and terminated him nearly immediately,” said Schembechler, who lives in Ann Arbor. “Bo went to him and said, ‘I need him, he is our team doctor, reinstate him,’ and he did.”
Claims about Schembechler knowing about Anderson because of his son’s complaint push back the timeline of when UM officials allegedly became aware of Anderson’s behavior during exams by 10 years.
Until now, the late UM associate vice president for student services Thomas Easthope was thought to be among the first to become aware of allegations against Anderson in 1979, when an advocate approached Easthope and told him the doctor was behaving inappropriately in the exam room with male patients. Easthope, who died earlier this year, told police in 2018 that he confronted Anderson at the time and fired him. But rather than leaving UM, the doctor was promoted soon after.
A May report commissioned by UM to investigate Anderson showed three football players alerted Schembechler to Anderson’s behavior. One of the players said Anderson fondled him and gave him a rectal exam. Soon after, they approached Schembechler and questioned the exam.
The press conference comes the day before the UM Regents meet virtually for their regularly scheduled business meeting on Thursday.
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