A man has detailed the alleged sexual abuse he suffered 50 years ago at the hands of a now-deceased university doctor who treated “all the gay men”.
Robert E Anderson was formerly a director of the health service at the University of Michigan, and worked at the university from 1968 until 2003. He passed away in 2008.
According to The Detroit News, University of Michigan officials announced on Wednesday, February 19, that since July 2018 they had been investigating multiple reports of “sexual misconduct and unnecessary medical exams” by Anderson’s former patients.
Most of the alleged incidents took place in the 1970s, but at least one former patient said they were abused in the 1990s.
University of Michigan president Mark Schlissel said in a statement: “The allegations that were reported are disturbing and very serious. We promptly began a police investigation and cooperated fully with the prosecutor’s office.”
One of Anderson’s alleged victims, Robert Julian Stone, has spoken out about his experience of being one of the doctor’s patients in 1970.
According to All About Ann Arbor, when Stone was a 20-year-old student at the university he was fearful of visiting his family doctor because he was gay.
He said: “I called a friend of mine, a gay friend in Ann Arbor. I said: ‘Look, I don’t know. Who do I go to? Who do I see?’
“He said go to Dr Anderson. Dr Anderson treats all the gay men in Ann Arbor.”
Stone said that during the appointment Anderson began undressing and placed the student’s hand on his genitals.
He continued: “After this happened, I was horrified. I was absolutely enraged and disgusted. It makes me want to cry.
“Homosexuality was still considered a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association in the 1970s. I felt completely disempowered to report this.”
Stone, who now lives in Palm Springs with his husband, wrote an essay in the summer of 2019 about the alleged sexual abuse and sent it to the university, which triggered the investigation.
According to The Detroit News, Stone said: “When I first wrote to the university, I thought: ‘Well, Dr Anderson was a closeted gay man’, and I had some compassion for a man at that time in that position.
“Now I realise he wasn’t a closeted gay man. He was a sexual predator, and that’s … a criminal thing.”
But Washtenaw County prosecutor Steven Hiller has said that no charges can be filed because so much time had passed, and Anderson was deceased.
The University of Michigan has, however, set up a hotline for other people to come forward. According to All About Ann Arbor, there have been 22 reports to the hotline since Wednesday.
In August 2019, 48 gay and bisexual men who are former students of the University of Southern California (USC) joined a class-action lawsuit, alleging that a university doctor sexually abused them, and that the assaults spanned more than two decades. The case is still ongoing.