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Ex-football, hockey players sue University of Michigan over doctor abuse

YPSILANTI, Mich. -- Three former athletes at the University of Michigan filed lawsuits Thursday against the school, alleging that a late doctor sexually assaulted them while the men were members of the football and hockey teams in the 1980s.

The lawsuits, which identify the men only as John Doe, mirror the allegations in the first suit filed against the university over Dr. Robert E. Anderson. The men are all represented by Mike Cox, a former Michigan attorney general, who said Wednesday that his firm represents about 20 people in lawsuits against the school.

The university, located in Ann Arbor, revealed last month that it was investigating multiple allegations of abuse against Anderson, who died in 2008. Last week, it said it since had received more than 100 complaints about Anderson.

Anderson had a decades-long career as director of the university's Health Service and a physician for multiple athletic teams including football from 1996 until his retirement in 2003.

One of the men suing Thursday received an athletic scholarship and was a member of the football team from 1980 to 1985. His suit says he saw Anderson multiple times a year.

"In one illustrative example, plaintiff recalls being told to see Anderson when he had strep throat, and during this appointment, Anderson violated plaintiff with digital anal penetration and genital fondling," the suit said.

Another man's lawsuit identified him as an All State football player in high school who received an athletic scholarship and was a member of the Michigan team from 1981 through 1985. The man saw Anderson about four times a year, the suit said.

"Not once did plaintiff see Anderson for issues related to his genitals or anus; yet most of the times that Anderson treated plaintiff, Anderson required plaintiff to drop his pants, so Anderson could digitally penetrate plaintiff's anus and fondle plaintiff's genitals," the suit said.

The third lawsuit was filed on behalf of a man who was a member of the hockey team from 1983 until 1984. The suit said the man saw Anderson about five times a year.

During most of those visits, "Anderson sexually assaulted, abused, and molested plaintiff, by inflicting nonconsensual digital anal penetration and genital fondling," the suit said.

The university's president has apologized to "those who were harmed" by Anderson, and officials have acknowledged that some campus employees were aware of accusations against the doctor prior to a 2018 complaint that led to a police investigation.

Campus police found that prior complaints spanned much of Anderson's time at the school, up to 2002.

Also Thursday, two men added to the public allegations against Anderson.

Michael Connelley, a former student, said Anderson abused him "for years" during medical exams at the university's Health Service. Connelley declined to detail his allegations during a news conference in Ypsilanti but said he first saw Anderson for a sore throat because a friend told him the doctor was "gay friendly."

JP DesCamp said he went to Anderson for a physical required by his job in 1973. DesCamp said Anderson had him lay naked on an exam table and touched his genitals and rectum.

DesCamp said he left the office "feeling highly vulnerable and taken advantage of" but never discussed it with anyone.

DesCamp said he later learned that coworkers refused to see Anderson because "word about Dr. Drop-your-drawers Anderson was out."

Robert Stone, the first man to publicly discuss his allegations against Anderson with The Detroit News, also spoke at the news conference and thanked the university police detective who handled the investigation.

Attorneys representing the men asked Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to open her own investigation and called on the university's governing board of regents to cooperate.

"What happened here was a 30-year lie, the best and brightest of this state was savaged by Dr. Anderson, and we know people in the university in positions of power knew and did nothing," attorney John Manly said. "The damage to any of these men and women here is like having your guts ripped out. It's not a small thing. It's a horror show."

Nessel responded to the requests for an investigation on Twitter: "I cannot -- and will not -- consider any request to investigate the University of Michigan without a binding commitment from the university to waive all privileges, including the attorney-client privilege, and to fully cooperate in whatever law enforcements efforts there may be."

Nessell also said the Michigan State Legislature should commit to funding an investigation.

"University of Michigan regents, if you're listening to me right now, hear what I'm telling you,'' Nessel said. "We're happy to come in, we're happy to have a completely objective, non-biased investigation.''

Messages seeking comment from The Associated Press were left with a spokeswoman at the University of Michigan and the eight members of the board of regents.

Nessel took office one year after the former attorney general opened a wide-sweeping investigation into how Michigan State responded to complaints about former doctor Larry Nassar. Nessel and her predecessor have both expressed frustration with Michigan State's board of trustees and their unwillingness to share thousands of pages of documents that the school says are protected by attorney-client privilege.

Information from ESPN's Dan Murphy and The Associated Press was used in this report.