the University of Michigan, his history Soccer program, and legendary former football coach Glenn “Bo” Schembechler, are all back in the spotlight this week, after two former players came forward in an exclusive interview with Fox News to detail the sexual abuse by the longtime Michigan Department of Sports physician Dr. Robert E. Anderson.
Dan Kwiatkowski, who was one of Michigan’s top high school prospects and played for the Wolverines from 1977 to 1981, said he was “severely” abused on campus, starting with his first-year exam, conducted by Dr. Anderson, who died in 2008 and has never been the subject of criminal charges.
“[Schembechler] came to my house to meet my parents, met my parents. And during this conversation he promised my parents that I would get an education, that they would send home a better son than the one they gave him, and that he would take care of all my responsibilities. medical, ”Kwiatkowski explained of the recruitment process with Schembechler.
“So I went to Michigan, and I was abused in my freshman physique,” Kwiatkowski said.
Anderson’s behavior was well known, according to Kwiatkowski, who he said often forced young students, many of whom were not yet adults, with a horrific choice: to go to Anderson for treatment and potentially face a other assault or without medical attention.
“We talked about it in the locker room. We talked about it in the bar, we talked about it. If you had a cold, say, and you had to go see Dr. Anderson, you had to decide whether or not you wanted to be assaulted for. get the cold medicine, ”Kwiatkowski explained.
“You had to make some very difficult decisions as a 17-year-old student. You have to remember that we were 17 at the time and we were faced with all kinds of different situations,” Kwiatkowski said.
Another football player, Gilvanni Johnson, who played catcher for the Maize and Blue from 1982 to 1985, simply replied, “Yes, I was.” when Fox News asked him if he had been abused by Anderson.
“It was either a cold or I got injured in a game, and I walked in and told Bo that, you know, I had an anal exam which I didn’t think would have. not had to take place, ”said Johnson, who was drafted as a two-sport athlete by Michigan.
Johnson, who resides just over an hour west of Ann Arbor in Macomb County, said coaches often threatened players with physical exams from Anderson for poor performance on the field.
“The coaches, they were joking about, you know,” we’re going to send you to [the] doctor, ”you know, if you don’t take it, or if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, don’t hustle and stuff like that. It was, it was a joke. It’s happened all the time in relation to that. “
Both players also said they alerted former coach Bo Schembechler to Anderson’s conduct.
Kwiatkowski says the coaching legend even told him to “get tough.”
“I went to see Bo after training and asked him about fingers up the ass with the doctor? He told me to ‘toughen up’. At that point, I realized that I guess I’m alone, ”Kwiatkowski said.
Johnson says he spoke to Schembechler about the abuse, but doubts he did anything with the information because the sexual misconduct continued.
“He told me he would take care of it and never came back with me,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if he did anything with it. I mean, it continued, so obviously he didn’t do anything with it.”
The players’ decision to speak publicly for the first time follows a lawsuit filed on behalf of many of Anderson’s alleged victims in March 2020. Last month, a report commissioned by the University and conducted by the firm of WilmerHale lawyers named Schembechler, who led the Wolverines to 13 Big Ten Championships, as one of many university officials who were likely aware of the misconduct but did not act appropriately.
the report concluded that “Dr. Anderson’s misconduct could have been detected sooner and ended” if those who had been made aware of it decades earlier would have acted on the information given to them by his victims.
“Information regarding the information was also shared with other University staff. While the information these individuals received varied in frankness and specificity, Dr. Anderson’s misconduct may have been detected earlier and ended if they had considered, understood, investigated, or raised heard. ”
The report, which drew on 300 patient interviews and information from more than 800 people, included a footnote stating that “several University staff who worked with Mr. Schembechler told us that if he had known about Anderson’s misconduct with the patients, he would not have tolerated it. . “
Last week, current Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh, who played under Schembechler and whose father served as an assistant under the coach questioned the report, saying “there was nothing that has ever been swept under the rug or ignored. He covered it all in a It’s the Bo Schembechler I Know. “
Schembechler’s own son-in-law Matt Schembechler claims that as a child he was also victimized by Anderson and that, like former players, he told his stepfather.
“This practical situation that Dr Anderson gave me, it’s right, call it intuition, I don’t know, it was just wrong,” Matt said.
Young Schembechler appears to have had a strained relationship dating back decades with his stepfather, who died of heart disease in 2006. In a lawsuit filed in the late 1990s, he sought $ 500,000 in damages from his stepfather and the University of Michigan for a deal to sell Michigan Stadium bleachers as souvenirs.
“He just wasn’t designed to be a father, and there was never a close relationship,” he said of his stepfather.
The former players, who had never spoken publicly before, have now said they decided to come forward in solidarity with other victims and protect future generations from the same type of abuse they faced as young student-athletes.
“The real reason I’m here is people say ‘no one will say or stand up’. I want to stand up for my fellow players and teammates who have been through the same thing as me,” Kwiatkowski said.
Fighting back tears, Johnson explained, “One of the reasons I speak out is because of the people who have come after me and the children who are here now.
“I just want to make sure that this abuse, I just want to make sure that the abuse doesn’t happen again and the children are protected.”