novi – The son of former University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler and two former players spoke on Thursday about their allegations thatthe coach knew they were sexually abused by Dr. Robert Anderson, but did nothing to stop it.
Matt Schembechler and former Wolverines Daniel Kwiatkowski and Gilvanni Johnson spoke at a press conference at the Sheraton Detroit Novi, saying they were repeatedly assaulted by Anderson and alerted the coach.
“Don’t get me wrong, Bo was a good coach,” Johnson said. “But for me, in my memory of him at this point, he allowed 17 or 18 year olds to continue to be assaulted when he could have done something about it.”
On a Wednesday interview with The Detroit NewsMatthew Schembechler said he told his famous father in 1969 that Anderson had sexually molested him during a physical exam to play in a youth football league when he was 10 years old and weighed 60 pounds. Old Schembechler, who was training his first season, was furious, said he didn’t want to hear about it, and punched him in the chest so hard it flew across the kitchen floor, his son said.
Now 62, Schembechler said his mother invited then-UM Athletic Director Don Canham to her home so he could tell Canham what had happened to Anderson.
“(Canham) talked to Anderson and fired him almost immediately,” said Schembechler, who lives in Ann Arbor. “Bo went up to him and said, ‘I need him, he’s our team doctor, reinstate him,’ and he did.”
Schembechler discussed how his father failed to protect him and others from Anderson, a longtime UM doctor who died but was accused by more than 800 people of sexual assault.
Also detailing their stories of abuse were Kwiatkowski, a 1977-79 UM offensive lineman who claims to have been treated and abused by Anderson four times, and Gilvanni Johnson, a 1982-86 wide receiver, who claims to have been treated and abused by Anderson over 15 times.
Mick Grewal, attorney for the three men, said they “are coming forward now to clear things up.”
ONE May report outlining an investigation by Anderson showed that three football players alerted Schembechler to Anderson’s behavior. One of the players said Anderson stroked him and had a rectal exam. Shortly thereafter, they approached Schembechler and questioned the exam.
Anderson served at UM as head of University Health Services and staff physician from 1966-2003. He concurrently worked as a training physician for the UM Athletics Department in early 1968. He died in 2008.
In February 2020, UM alumnus Robert Julian Stone publicly accused Anderson of sexually abusing him in 1971. His story brought 850 other accusers, mostly men, with similar allegations. They are currently in mediation with UM.
Schembechler, who coached the UM football team from 1969 until 1989, died in 2006. Canham, who was UM athletic director from 1968 to 1988, died in 2005.
In a joint statement on Thursday, UM President Mark Schlissel and the Board of Regents responded to the latest allegations.
“Our sympathy for all of Anderson’s victims is deep and unwavering, and we thank you for your bravery in coming forward,” the statement said. “We condemn and apologize for the tragic misconduct of the late Dr. Robert Anderson, who left the University 17 years ago and died 13 years ago. We are committed to resolving his claims and continuing the court-guided confidential mediation process.”
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