Sex abuse is deeply traumatizing. The impacts of abuse can be seen for years after experiencing the trauma. A survivor may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and feel fear in many different situations and settings.
In some cases, survivors might avoid places or mistrust others, because of their past trauma.
A particularly tragic case is that of Chuck Christian, a former University of Michigan football player who allegedly suffered sex abuse during his time at UMich. The alleged abuser was Dr. Robert Anderson, a doctor associated with the football team. The abuse he suffered resulted in a lifelong fear of doctors and physical examinations. Tragically, this meant that doctors couldn’t detect that he had prostate cancer. Christian, now in his 60s, is suffering from Stage 4 cancer.
Robert Anderson’ Alleged Sex Abuse of UMich Students
Dr. Robert Anderson allegedly abused many students, mainly men, when he was employed by the University of Michigan from 1968 to 2003.
Anderson was a director of the University Health Service before being removed from that role in 1979. But he continued to be a doctor for the University of Michigan football team till his retirement in 2003. He was also associated with the University’s hockey, wrestling, and track teams as a physician.
Anderson allegedly sexually assaulted students who came to him for physicals and gave unnecessary rectal and testicular examinations. According to Detroit Free Press, he also traded sexual favors for letters certifying that students were gay so that they could avoid the Vietnam War draft. He was apparently widely known as “Dr. Drop Your Drawers Anderson.”
The extent of his abuse was revealed in February 2020, and several former students have filed lawsuits against the University of Michigan for allowing the abuse to happen on their watch.
Chuck Christian, a former tight end for the Michigan football team, is just one of many students who suffered abuse because of Anderson.
Fear Kept Christian Away from Doctors
Christian first visited Anderson before the 1977 season for a routine physical, and was subjected to an unnecessary prostate examination. Later, he learned that many other players also went through the same thing with Anderson.
He had to undergo four more exams before graduation. After leaving the University of Michigan, Christian avoided doctors even when he was sick or injured.
In 2004, a urologist recommended a prostate examination after Christian discovered blood in his semen. Christian did not stick around for the procedure. He finally returned to the urologist almost a decade later because his wife LaDonna was concerned for his health- he was getting up eight to 10 times to urinate during the night. Even then, he was not convinced about the exam till the doctor reached out his wife and she explained to him that it was life or death.
The examination revealed a hardened prostate. Subsequent biopsies revealed that Christian had cancer and it was too advanced to operate. Now, the stage 4 prostate cancer has metastasized to his spine, tailbone, hips, ribs, and shoulders.
Doctors gave him three years to live, but Christian just completed four years since the diagnosis, opting for alternative treatments over chemo and radiation.
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Abuse Can Have Lifelong Effects
Christian hadn’t realized that his fear of doctors was related to the trauma he suffered at University of Michigan.
No one should be ashamed of being a victim, he said in an interview with CNN.
“I want to help all the student-athletes that have been through what I went through,” he said. “Do not let any doctor or trainer do to you what they did to us, because it’s wrong and it’s illegal.”
It was three former wrestlers from University of Michigan, including Olympian Andy Hrovat and Tad Deluca, who had revealed the extent of abuse they suffered during their time at Ann Arbor. Now many more student-athletes are coming forward with their own claims.
If you or anyone you know suffered abuse, whether at University of Michigan or anywhere else, don’t wait to seek help and advice. You are not alone in this journey.
We are here to provide legal advice and support if you need it. Reach out to the Pintas & Mullins legal team today for confidential, compassionate guidance.