Bo Schembechler’s son said coach knew of abusive doctor, did nothing


4 a.m. ET, June 16, 2021: Bo Schembechler’s family has denied the former Michigan coach knew anything about sexual assault allegations against Dr. Robert Anderson, and a group of ex-players has started an online petition to defend Schembechler’s legacy.

Original story:

One of the sons of the University of Michigan’s legendary football coach Bo Schembechler says he was a victim of sexual assault by a campus doctor, and that when his father found out, he did nothing about it.

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Matt Schembechler, along with others who have publicly said that Dr. Robert Anderson sexually assaulted them while he worked in the athletics department at UM, will be speaking at a news conference on Thursday along with two former Michigan athletes Daniel Kwiatkowski and Gilvanni Johnson who also claim Anderson assaulted them.

Their accusations come a month after a report commissioned by the University of Michigan said Bo Schembechler and other university officials were aware of complaints about Anderson, who was allowed to remain at the school for decades.

According to Schembechler, Anderson assaulted him when he was a 10-year-old boy. Schembechler had been sent to Anderson for a physical so he could play youth football. He said Anderson fondled him and gave him a rectal exam during the physical.

Schembechler’s claims echo hundreds of complaints from UM athletes that Anderson fondled their genitals and gave them rectal exams no matter what they came to the doctor for.

According to the report commissioned by the University of Michigan, other UM students have also accused Anderson of giving out draft deferrals from the Vietnam War in exchange for sex acts.

Matt Schembechler said when he told his father that Anderson had assaulted him, Schembechler became enraged and punched him in the chest.

“That was the first time he closed-fist punched me,” Matt Schembechler told ESPN.

“It knocked me all the way across the kitchen.”

Schembechler was one of three sons that Bo Schembechler’s first wife, Millie, had from a previous relationship and was adopted by Schembechler once the couple married in 1968.

Schembechler said he told his mother about the abuse and she asked the university’s athletic director, Don Canham, to come to their home so Matt Schembechler could tell him what happened.

Canham came to the house when Bo Schembechler was at practice, the younger Schembechler said. He told Canham what had happened.

The younger Schembechler told The Detroit News that Canham fired Anderson “nearly immediately.”

“Bo went to him and said, ‘I need him, he is our team doctor, reinstate him,’ and he did,” the 62-year-old Schembechler told the Detroit News.

An investigation conducted by the law firm WilmerHale concluded that Anderson’s misconduct was reported “several times between 1978 and 1981,” but that a “senior University administrator … did not take appropriate action.”

Schembechler said his father was told on numerous occasions that Anderson had sexually assaulted athletes, and he took no action, telling one athlete to “toughen up” after he went to Schembechler with abuse allegations.

Court filings show that the number of Anderson’s victims could exceed 800, according to the Associated Press.

Anderson’s former patients in interviews and court documents say the doctor assaulted them, fondled them and made an array of inappropriate sexual comments.

The report detailed missed opportunities to stop Anderson, who spent 37 years on campus.

Matt Schembechler said his father “was a great coach and made a lot of people happy. He made a ton of money for the University of Michigan filling that stadium up. He provided, for most of those kids that played for him, a great experience.”

“I think he was a horrible human being,” he told ESPN.

Canham died in 2005. Bo Schembechler died in 2006, and Anderson died in 2008.

The accusations against Anderson and the University’s response are reminiscent of a similar situation at Penn State University.

In November 2011, defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested and charged with sexually abusing eight boys.

One incident of abuse was witnessed by a graduate assistant who told Penn state head coach Joe Paterno and two campus administrators about it.

None of the three men contacted authorities about the accusation.

Within days of the publication of a story about the abuse Paterno was fired. He died two-and-a-half months later.

Former FBI director Louis Freeh was asked to lead a university-commissioned investigation into the matter. The investigation concluded that Paterno and three administrators covered up for Sandusky. The three administrators were charged with covering up the abuse.

Sandusky was convicted and sentenced to 30-60 years in prison.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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