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University of Michigan football coaching legend’s son says dad knew doctor was abusing athletes

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Matt Schimbekler, 62, said he first met Dr. Robert Anderson before playing football as a fourth grader in 1969. Anderson “loved my genitalia and conducted an invasive rectal exam,” he told reporters.

He told his mother about the ordeal, and she instructed him to tell his adoptive father. It didn’t go well, he recalled, his father didn’t want to hear the allegations.

“Bo’s anger was legendary, and he lost it,” said Matt Schimbachler. “I tried to tell him over and over again, but my effort hit me with a punch in the chest. It was the beginning of the end of the relationship. … I expected my father to protect me, but he didn’t.”

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The boy and his mother later reported Anderson’s behavior to athletic director Don Canham, who terminated Anderson, but it is Matt Schiebachler’s understanding that his father reinstated Anderson, he said.

Matt Schimbekler speaks to reporters on Thursday.

The coach’s son was accompanied by two previously unnamed Michigan players, Daniel Kwiatkowski and Gilvani Johnson, who were cited in a report commissioned by UM that found the university had received hundreds of allegations about Anderson — over decades. — and failed to take action, attorney Mick Grewal said. Former players say they told the coach about Anderson’s misbehavior.

Grewal described Anderson as a “pedophile hunter” who was patronized by Bo Schimbachler. Matt Schimbachler and former players have a two-fold purpose in telling their story publicly, the lawyer explained.

“His courage to come forward and stand up today is not only going to help him recover, but all other hundreds, if not thousands, of survivors from this tragedy,” Grewal said.

Bo Schimbekler died in 2006, Anderson two years later.

A statement from UM President Mark Schlissel and the Board of Regents expressed sympathy for the victims and thanked them for their bravery. The school has taken steps to protect its students from moving forward.

“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 continue to resolve his claims and continue the confidential mediation process directed by the court. Committed to keeping.”

Report decades of abuse documents

The former players’ allegations are similar to a 240-page report last month by law firm WilmerHale alleging that Anderson was transferred from University Health Services to the athletic department in 1981 when Thomas Easthope, student services assistant was received by the Vice President. credible reports of misconduct” in 1978 or 1979.

An alleged victim told the firm that Easthope had told her that Anderson would stop seeing patients, but that Anderson “continued to provide medical services to student-athletes and other patients – and engaged in a large number of sexual misconducts until his retirement.” attachment”. , stated in the report. Easthop told investigators that he fired Anderson, “but Mr Easthop did not,” the report said. Easthope died in February.

“There is no reasonable explanation,” the report concluded, for Easthop’s failure to act on “the rumors and intuitions surrounding Dr. Anderson,” who worked at the university from 1966 to 2003.

Johnson, who had come to Ann Arbor in 1982 as a freshman, remembered reporters hearing about “Dr. Enall” upon his arrival on campus, but didn’t understand what it meant until his first visit. meant.

He described an ordeal similar to that of a Matt Schimbacher, which he said he endured. Johnson visited Anderson for colds, bruises and other matters at least 15 times during his four years in Michigan, and doctors loved his penis and gave him a rectal exam every time, he said.

A report alleges that Dr. Robert Anderson sexually abused University of Michigan athletes.A report alleges that Dr. Robert Anderson sexually abused University of Michigan athletes.

He called Bo Schiebekler, who said he would follow up, but Johnson never heard back, he said. Johnson alleged that other players told him “not to rock the boat”, and Bo Schimbekler reneged on the promise that a two-sport athlete in Michigan could also play basketball.

Everyone knew about the abuse, he said, and players and coaches talked about it regularly.

“Coaches used to joke about him and actually threaten (a) Dr. Anderson exam if (he) didn’t think we were working hard enough,” he said. “Only now did I realize how insane it was to make rape threats as a way of motivating players to work harder.”

Kwiatkowski, who played in Michigan from 1977 to 1981, suffered similar abuse, he said, after Anderson once blew his penis and said it was okay to get an erection. Bo Schimbacher had promised Kwiatkowski’s mother that he would treat the young man like family, so he was surprised by his coach’s reaction when he reported to Anderson.

“Bow looked at me and said, ‘Get tough,'” Kwiatkowski said, and sent her back for three more exams with Anderson, who “violated me over and over again.”

The WilmerHale report alleges that – as Johnson relayed on Thursday – athletic officials “heard jokes or rumors about Dr. Anderson’s examinations,” but none of them took steps to investigate.

University apologizes

The report was based on interviews with hundreds of Anderson’s former patients and “nearly 200 current and former university staff, including administrators, faculty members and coaches, as well as additional (University Health Services), athletic departments and Michigan Medicine personnel.”

Grewal told CNN that Kwiatkowski and Johnson are among the sources, and anonymously shared with investigators that they told Bo Schembechler about Anderson’s behavior.

after the release of the report, Schlissel, the school’s president, said the university “is offering its heartfelt apologies for the misconduct committed by the late Robert Anderson.”

“We will work to gain the trust of survivors and to ensure that we promote a safe environment for our students, our staff and our community,” Schlissel wrote.

There were already allegations against Larry Nassar at Michigan State University and Richard Strauss at Ohio State University — doctors accused of taking advantage of their positions to manipulate students and athletes. Strauss killed himself in 2005. Nassar is serving up to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to criminal sexual conduct.
The addition of Bo Schembechler now compares to Penn State, where Late Coaching icon Joe Paterno faced allegations that he did nothing about his assistant of 30 years, Jerry Sandusky, sexually abusing boys at team facilities and other locations. A jury found Sandusky guilty in 2012 of 45 counts of child abuse. He is serving a prison sentence of up to 60 years.

All three cases involve allegations that powerful institutions ignored or dismissed complaints about sexual misconduct.

Other alleged victims have surfaced

Former wrestler Thomas went to the University of Michigan in 2018 to share a report of alleged abuse by DeLuca Anderson, who said, “Check his penis, check for hernia, and without explaining why such exams were necessary, a digital rectal conducted the examination.”

In 1975, he told his coach about the abuse, which had begun three years earlier, DeLuca said. He lost his scholarship and was dropped from the team, he said.

Two more wrestlers, including Olympian Andy Horovat, sat down with DeLuca at a 2020 news conference, detailing their own allegations of abuse. Former San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts safety Dwight Hicks came forward with the allegations later that year.
Chuck Christian, who played a hard role for Wolverine in the late 1970s and early 1980s, told CNN in May 2020 that he was abused by Anderson and that the doctor’s unnecessary rectal exams cost him doctors later in life. was barred from seeing.
Chuck Christian played tight end for the Michigan Wolverines from 1977 to 1981.Chuck Christian played tight end for the Michigan Wolverines from 1977 to 1981.

Players who joined Matt Schiebekler on Thursday say they too became wary of doctors. Kwiatkowski put his own health at risk, he said, and Johnson delayed critical health care because of his distrust. Both men also struggled with intimacy issues, he said, and Johnson recalled engaging in bizarre behavior to prove himself “he was a man.”

Christian is now battling prostate cancer, which he says could have been diagnosed earlier if not for the fear of doctors.

Christian told CNN last month, “He hurt so many people, and the way I see it, he didn’t just rape an 18-year-old new football player — he raped the men we had become.” ” “It has affected us for generations, and no one knows how many generations of what Anderson did will affect us.”

In a 2020 interview, however, Christian emphasized the comparison between Paterno and Bo Schimbachler, saying he was an excellent coach and was not to blame for Anderson’s abuse. Still, he was “disappointed to learn that the players at Michigan didn’t have integrity,” he said.

2nd son: ‘Bo do something’

The Hall of Fame coach has other defenders, including his biological son, who previously told ESPN that his father knew nothing about Anderson’s abuse.

“I can tell you frankly that nobody ever told Bo,” Glenn Schimbachler told the network last year. “Bo must have done something.”

Current Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh also defended his predecessor. According to The Detroit News, Harbaugh, standing in front of a football building bearing the name of Schimbachler and featuring a statue of the coach, told reporters that he had never seen such behavior as a youth player or Michigan quarterback in the 1980s. .

“There was nothing like it when I noticed I was a kid here – my dad was on staff – or when I used to play here. He would never sit on anything. He never procrastinated on anything,” Harbaugh told the newspaper. “He took care of it before the sun went down. He’s the Bo Schimbachler I know. There was nothing that was ever swept under the rug or overlooked.”

Anderson’s children have come to their father’s defense, telling The Detroit News last year that they did not believe the allegations. Kurt Anderson said, “She’s just not him,” and Jill Anderson called the allegations ridiculous.

“My dad was a lovely doctor at UM for so many years,” the doctor’s daughter told the newspaper. “He was highly respected. Everyone said he treated him with the utmost integrity and care.”

According to the WilmerHale report, many of the patients abused by Anderson were members of susceptible populations—including LGBTQ patients, scholarship-seeking student-athletes, and patients receiving medical exemptions from the Vietnam War—and “felt they had Dr. Had no choice but to comply. Anderson’s misbehavior.”

Some alleged victims left their team, while others questioned their sexuality, sought counseling or dropped out of school, the report concluded, “the trauma caused by Dr. Anderson’s misconduct persists to this day.”

Kwiatkowski recalled going to the Michigan reunion in 1999, where Anderson and Bo Schimbachler were in attendance. He told reporters that he had become physically ill before greeting his former coach.

“Bo told me, ‘Don’t be afraid of me. I can’t hurt you anymore,'” Kwiatkowski said. “Well, Bo’s statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Even after all these years, I still grapple with the pain of Dr. Anderson and Bo. Bo knew. Everyone knew.”

CNN’s Gregory Lemos, Rebekah Rees and Alec Snyder contributed to this report.

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