(NEW YORK) — Three former students at the University of Michigan, all of who claim to be victims of sexual abuse at the hands of a deceased school physician, spoke out Thursday on what they described as “decades of sexual abuse and ignoring victims” at the school.
One of the alleged victims, Tad Deluca, is the first person to have brought forward the allegations against Dr. Robert E. Anderson to coaches at the Ann-Arbor university, according to his lawyers.
“I spoke up by letter in 1975 and was ignored and denigrated by the University of Michigan. I spoke up again by letter in 2018 … once again the University of Michigan ignored me,” Deluca said at a press conference in Southfield, Michigan. “I’m here today to speak up again to let the University of Michigan know I will not be ignored again.”
Deluca and his attorney said he was kicked off the team for reporting a complaint against Anderson in 1975, which later resulted in him losing his scholarship.
Deluca said he came forward again in 2018 after being inspired by the victims of disgraced USA Olympic gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to more than 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting numerous athletes.
Rick Fitzgerald, university spokesperson, praised the “three brave men who came forward today to share their stories” and that they “delivered a powerful message.”
“As U-M President Mark Schlissel has said, we are deeply sorry for the harm caused by Anderson,” Fitzgerald said in a statement to ABC News. “The university engaged a firm with deep expertise to conduct an independent, thorough, and unflinching review of the facts – wherever they may lead. Through the work of this independent firm, there will be a full, public accounting of the harms caused by Anderson as well as the institutional failings that allowed him to keep practicing.”
“We again urge anyone to come forward and talk directly and confidentially to our outside, independent investigators. It is truly important for the investigators to hear the voices of survivors for the investigators to understand the full scope of harm and its root causes,” the statement added.
Deluca wrote in his original letter to his then-coach Bill Johannesen that no matter the injury he sustained, “[Anderson] always makes you drop your drawers,” according to attorney Parker Stinar.
During treatment sessions with Anderson, the doctor felt Deluca’s penis, his testicles and inserted his finger into his rectum, according to his letter, parts of which were read by Stinar.
Former wrestler Andy Hrovat, who was one of the first to publicly come forward with the allegations, was also in attendance at the press conference.
“Our culture in this sport, and even other sports, is make no excuses. You’re not a victim. You gotta suck it up. You gotta push through it, and that is very difficult, especially for men, to stand up and say, ‘This did happen. It was wrong,'” Hrovat said. “You may not see yourself as a victim, but you are.”
Hrovat, Deluca and another alleged victim, Thomas Evasheski, all encouraged others to come forward and speak up.
Stinar said he expects “hundreds more victims” to come forward. He said there is a meeting scheduled with the University of Michigan to discuss the allegations and hold them accountable. Stinar did not give a date and only disclosed it would be in the “near future.”
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