"I will not be ignored again" Former wrestlers detail abuse by late U of M doctor | Michigan Radio
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"I will not be ignored again" Former wrestlers detail abuse by late U of M doctor

Feb 27, 2020

Three men who accuse a late University of Michigan doctor of sexual abuse say they want accountability from the university—and for others to speak up.

Former U of M wrestlers Tad DeLuca, Thomas Evashevski, and Andy Hrovat spoke publicly about that abuse, and the school’s reluctance to deal with it at the time, alongside attorneys on Thursday.

Tad DeLuca (left), Thomas Evashevski, and Andy Hrovat all accuse the late University of Michigan doctor Robert Anderson of sexual abuse.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The men said it was an open secret among the wrestling team that Dr. Robert Anderson used medical exams to abuse student-athletes. They said Anderson was widely known as “Doctor Drop Your Drawers,” and used exams and treatments to touch athletes’ genitals and give them rectal exams, no matter what their injury was.

Anderson was a former director of the University Health Service, as well as the top doctor for multiple university sports teams.

Attorneys identified DeLuca as the first whistleblower to come forward about Anderson’s abuse.

DeLuca, a Northern Michigan middle school teacher who wrestled at U of M in the 1970s, said he wrote a nine-page letter to his wrestling coach and the school’s then-athletic director detailing Anderson’s abuse in 1975.

The result: DeLuca said he was “ignored and denigrated.” He said the wrestling coach publicly humiliated him by reading his letter in front of the entire team. DeLuca says he was then kicked off the team and stripped of his scholarship.

DeLuca said he blamed himself, and carried the burden of that response, along with the memories of his abuse, ever since.

“In 1975, I lost. Everything here was my fault,” DeLuca said. “That’s what I’ve lived with: it’s my fault.”

DeLuca said that in 2018, after hearing a story about victims of Dr. Larry Nassar’s abuse coming forward, he decided to raise the issue once again. In June of that year, he said he wrote a letter to Athletic Director Warde Manuel again detailing Anderson’s abuse. Following that and other similar reports, U of M eventually launched a police investigation, though prosecutors declined to act. Anderson died in 2008.

DeLuca said he’s now “speaking up again to let the University of Michigan know I will not be ignored again.”

“Everybody who was abused by this doctor, the doctor everyone knew was doing this, should speak up and let everyone know they will not be ignored,” DeLuca said. “It just, it has to stop.”

Andy Hrovat, a former U of M and U.S. Olympic wrestler, said he too was abused by Anderson. He said the experience was “horrific,” but it took years for him to process what had happened.

Hrovat said sports, particularly wrestling, culture makes it too easy for victims to blame themselves.

“That is really very difficult, especially for men, to stand up and say, look, this did happen, this was wrong,” Hrovat said. “You may not see yourself as the victim, but you are.”

Parker Stinar, an attorney whose law firm is now representing more than a dozen of Anderson’s accusers, said no lawsuit has been filed “yet.” But he repeatedly called on the University of Michigan to be held accountable.

“Time is up, University of Michigan,” Stinar said.

“These were, and are, physically and mentally tough men. But they were all victims of sexual abuse. Victims of an institution that ignored warning after warning after warning about a predator preying on young individuals.”

In a statement, U of M spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the three men “delivered a powerful message.”

“We want to encourage everyone harmed by Robert E. Anderson or who has evidence of his misconduct to come forward,” Fitzgerald said. “At the University of Michigan we want to hear your voices. 

“As U-M President Mark Schlissel has said, we are deeply sorry for the harm caused by Anderson.”

Fitzgerald said the university has retained outside investigators to take an in-depth look at the facts surrounding Anderson’s case, and pledges a “full public accounting of the harms caused by Anderson, as well as the institutional failings that allowed him to keep practicing.”

Fitzgerald said U of M is also offering counseling services to anyone affected by Anderson’s abuse.

Editor's note: The University of Michigan holds Michigan Radio's license.