ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — A judge on Tuesday appointed three attorneys to look out for the interests of anyone who said they were sexually abused by a sports doctor who worked at the University of Michigan for decades.
U.S. District Court Judge Victoria Roberts ordered the appointments of E. Powell Miller, Annika Martin, and Joseph Sauder as interim class counsel in lawsuits against the Ann Arbor school and its board of regents.
Their firms filed a class-action complaint March 9 and asked the court to appoint them as interim class counsel to make “sure all victims are treated fairly among themselves,” including those who have hired their own attorneys, Martin said.
The University of Michigan did not oppose the motion for the appointments.
Robert Anderson worked at the university from the mid-1960s through 2003. He died in 2008.
Campus police began looking into Anderson in 2018 after a former student-athlete wrote to athletic director Warde Manuel about being sexually abused by Anderson during medical exams in the early 1970s.
The university said in April that it hoped to settle the lawsuits and has acknowledged some campus employees were aware of accusations against Anderson before the 2018 complaint. The school has started an independent investigation into the claims, which date back as far as the 1960s.
Board of regents Chair Ron Weiser and university President Mark Schlissel said in a news release last month that the school aims to develop a process outside the court system to provide “more certain, faster relief,” in addressing misconduct claims with a goal of maintaining the privacy of victims who have come forward.
“We have concerns about that,” Martin said. “Is the confidentiality and privacy going to be protected? How do we know if victims are getting compensated fairly?”
Some victims also may not trust the school’s efforts, she said.
“There may be some people who are not comfortable with hiring a lawyer and filing their own lawsuit, but still have been harmed and want to hold the school accountable,” Martin said. “The class action allows those victims to do so without filing an individual lawsuit.”