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Ex-Michigan wrestler says he was kicked off team for reporting doctor's abuse

A former University of Michigan wrestler has claimed that he was dismissed from the team 45 years ago for alerting the then-head wrestling coach of his being sexually abused by a university doctor at the time.

Tad Deluca was one of three former Wolverine wrestlers who spoke at a press conference Thursday hosted by a Denver-based law firm in suburban Detroit.

At the press conference, Deluca disclosed that, after writing a nine-page letter which revealed repeated sexual assaults by Dr. Robert Anderson during medical exams, that the Wolverines' head wrestling coach had him booted from the team.

Deluca said that he had told his coach, Bill Johannesen, and then-athletics director Don Canham, that "something is wrong with Dr. Anderson ... Regardless of what you go in there for, he always makes you drop your drawers."

During these exams, Deluca said Anderson had routinely fondled him and given him unnecessary rectal
exams.

Deluca went on to say that coach Johannesen humiliated him for speaking out about Anderson by reading his letter out loud to the rest of the team in 1975 ... then, according to NBC News, informing the wrestler that he was no longer on the team and had lost his full-ride scholarship.

At this week's press conference, the former Wolverine wrestler then read part of a second letter to the university -- written in 2018 -- where he quoted his former coach as saying, "Mr. Deluca, you will not return to my wrestling room whether your scholarship is in effect. You will not be known as an athlete."

"Those few minutes in front of my friends and teammates, the coach stripped away everything I had ever been," Deluca told reporters at the press conference.

In an interview with the Ann Arbor News on Tuesday, Feb. 25, Johannesen said he didn't recall any letter about Anderson and has never taken away a full-ride scholarship from anyone.

He said the only wrestler he remembers kicking off the team during that time frame was removed for missing practice.

Johannesen also said that he had personally seen Anderson for treatment and there was "never any kind of impropriety."

"I personally heard nothing in my four years as an athlete there ... and then as a coach ... never any accusations," Johannesen told the newspaper Tuesday.

At this week's press conference in Southfield, Mich., Deluca said he was moved by the #MeToo movement to write a letter in 2018 to current Athletic Director Warde Manuel.

"I spoke up by letter in July 1975 and was ignored and denigrated by the University of Michigan," Deluca said. "I spoke up again by letter in 2018 ... I'm here today to speak up again to let the University of Michigan know that I will not be ignored again.

"Everyone who was abused by this doctor -- the doctor everyone knew was abusing athletes and students -- should speak up and let everyone know they will not be ignored. It has to stop."

Police in Washtenaw County -- home to the University of Michigan and the city of Ann Arbor -- launched an investigation into Anderson in 2018 based on Deluca's second letter. But Steven Hiller, the county's assistant chief prosecuting attorney, said no charges could be filed because Anderson died in 2008 and none of the alleged offenses were within the state's six-year statute of limitations.

That said, the police investigation noted that University of Michigan employees were "aware of rumors and allegations of misconduct" by Anderson. And last week, University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel issued an apology on behalf of the university to anyone harmed by Anderson, saying, "As a physician, scientist, father and university president, I condemn all sexual misconduct, especially instances that occur under the purview of our public mission. This type of conduct is reprehensible, and whether it takes place now or in the past, it is unacceptable ..."

Deluca is one of nearly a dozen other male former Michigan student-athletes who have now come forward to say they too were victimized by Anderson. At least three of them were once wrestlers: Deluca, Thomas Evashevski, and Andy Hrovat, an NCAA All-American wrestler and member of the U.S. men's freestyle wrestling team who competed at the 2008 Summer Olympics, who disclosed his experiences with Anderson last week.

Parker Stinar, attorney with the Denver law firm of Wahlberg, Woodruff, Nimmo & Sloane -- which is representing Deluca and several other former Michigan athletes -- said they have not yet filed a lawsuit but has scheduled a meeting with the university's general counsel that will happen "in the near future."

Meanwhile, the university has encouraged anyone who may have been affected by Anderson to call the hotline at 866-990-0111 or the Steptoe & Johnson law firm at 202-419-5162 or UofM@steptoe.com.

Steptoe & Johnson was retained not to defend the university, but to conduct an independent, external investigation, according to University of Michigan spokesman Mark Fitzgerald.

Comments

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Scottie Schroeder (1) about 6 months ago
A proper investigation should be conducted on the statement of Ex-Michigan wrestler in which he is reporting doctor’s abuse. It is easy to click www.bestassignmentservices.co.uk/assignment-writing-services/uk-assignments-com-review/ website to read reviews about writing service online. I reckon why sports association is silent on this very serious matter.