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Honolulu marathon CEO says he was abused by University of Michigan doctor

Robert E. Anderson pictured in 1967.
University of Michigan
Bentley Historical Library
Robert E. Anderson pictured in 1967.

The president and CEO of one of the nation's largest marathons says a late University of Michigan doctor performed an inappropriate act on him during a medical examination in the 1970s.

Dr. James Barahal joins a chorus of former students by accusing Dr. Robert E. Anderson of assault. Barahal heads up the Honolulu Marathon and is a longtime physician.

He told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Monday that Anderson gave him a digital rectal exam when the then-medical student visited the student health center in 1975 complaining of a sore throat.

“I remember leaving, and I can still picture the health center and walking through the waiting room, getting out on the street and it was like, ‘What was that?’ I knew it was completely inappropriate,” Barahal said Monday.

Barahal was training with Michigan’s cross-country team in 1975 when he was “fast-tracked” in to see Anderson, who was the director of the University Health Service as well as a physician to some of the Ann Arbor school’s athletic teams. Anderson died in 2008.

The University of Michigan set up a hotline so that those who have information about Anderson could come forward. As of Monday, 71 calls had been made to the hotline and three email messages were sent regarding Anderson, university spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said Tuesday.

University President Mark Schlissel apologized last week “to anyone who was harmed by Dr. Anderson,” saying in a statement that the “patient-physician relationship involves a solemn commitment and trust.” Schlissel released another statement Tuesday in which he said the university is “offering counseling services at no personal cost to anyone affected by Anderson.”

The University of Michigan owns Michigan Radio’s broadcasting license.

The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.