The University of Michigan announced a $490 million settlement Wednesday with more than 1,000 people who say they were sexually assaulted by a sports doctor during his nearly four-decade career at the school.
The university said 1,050 people will share in the financial settlement, the latest in several large payouts made by American universities following accusations of repeated sexual abuse by employees.
Individuals and their attorneys will determine how to split $460 million, with no input from the university, the school said in a statement. An additional $30 million will be set aside for future claims.
Board of Regents Chair Jordan Acker told reporters that the agreement will resolve all survivor claims.
“We must support healing and restoration of trust in an environment where safety is paramount,” Acker said. “This agreement is an important step in that direction.”
Attorney Parker Stinar said the settlement was reached Tuesday night. The university had been in mediation to resolve multiple lawsuits by mostly men who said Dr. Robert Anderson sexually abused them during routine medical examinations.
“It has been a long and challenging journey, and I believe this settlement will provide justice and healing for the many brave men and women who refused to be silenced,” said Stinar, who represents about 200 victims.
Tad DeLuca, the whistleblower whose letter to Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel alleging sexual assault sparked an investigation into Anderson, told The Associated Press is a telephone interview that he found no joy in the settlement and worries that it will leave deeper issues unaddressed.
“The settlement is going to gloss things over so Michigan can go back to having a glossy block `M' and look wonderful for the world,” DeLuca said, referring to the university's logo. “But the situation on campus is horrible.”
Anderson worked at the university from 1966 until his 2003 retirement and was director of the university's Health Service and a physician for multiple athletic teams, including football. A number of football players and other athletes have come forward to accuse Anderson, who died in 2008, of sexually abusing them.
A report by a firm hired by the school determined that staff missed many opportunities to stop Anderson over his 37-year career.
The settlement has to be approved by the board which is expected to vote at its February meeting, Acker said. It also has to be approved by 98% of claimants and the court overseeing the suits.