Robert Anderson’s former daughter-in-law claims the doctor contributed to the death of her teenage son
The former daughter-in-law of the late University of Michigan doctor Robert Anderson said Tuesday the doctor’s sexual abuse may have played a role in the death of her son, who died of suicide in 2016.
Teri Anderson,55, from Ann Arbor appeared at a news conference Tuesday reading a statement outlining her experience with her former father-in-law, who was the university health service director and a doctor for the UM sports division throughout his 35-year career.
Teri Anderson was married to Kurt Edward Anderson, the youngest of Robert Anderson’s children, from 1995 to 2008, she said.
Teri and Kurt Anderson had two children. Her son, Charles Edward Anderson, died of suicide in March 2016 when he was a freshman at community high school in Ann Arbor.
She said she decided to speak after taking inspiration from the small group of Anderson prosecutors who came forward publicly adding their stories and the university-approved WilmerHale report examining Anderson’s behaviorhelped her piece together a puzzle about her ex-father-in-law.
“I hope our stories spread awareness of suicide, personal hygiene and sexual abuse across the country,” she said. “I hope our stories prevent the loss of life and sexual abuse that can occur in families.”
She said she remembered being told the doctor was a secretive gay man and he waswas“Fooling around” with male students on campus but didn’t say who told her. She added that she was at Robert Anderson’s home in 1995 when the doctor received a phone call that he was accused of sexually abusing a woman while on an internship.
“When I look back when I put the puzzle together, the picture is dark and ugly, and there are so many signs that Bob has groomed himself,” saidTeriAnderson, taking no questions. “I remember when my son shared with me when he was very, very young, he came home and said, ‘Mom, we never talk about family.'”
She described her former father-in-law as “a very strange person” who was “calm, reserved, disconnected and showed little emotion”.
“He giggled and grinned a lot,” she added.
She said she remembered her son calling her crying when he was staying with Anderson and his wife, Jacquelyn.
“He said he didn’t want to be left alone with his grandfather,” said Anderson. “He said, ‘Mom, there are dark clouds over the house.'”
Kurt Anderson was unavailable Tuesday for comment.
Granddaughter refutes claim
But Teri Anderson’s daughter, Anna Anderson, 23, told the Detroit News Tuesday she doesn’t believe her younger brother’s death was related to alleged sexual abuse by her grandfather.
“My grandfather was really sick when we were little, but my mother has a lot to do with my brother’s suicide,” said Anna Anderson when asked to respond to her mother’s comments on Tuesday. “I think she’s using this to distract and monetize this because my brother isn’t here to defend himself. This is really unfair to all the other victims because I don’t want them to be discredited. But I don’t think my brother was molested. “
Robert Anderson, 80, died at home of pulmonary fibrosis, a lung disease, on November 27, 2008, according to his death certificate.
“Even if he has been abused, I don’t think he would want this to be public information,” Anna Anderson said of her brother. “He was a shy, nice kid.”
Teri Anderson added that her ex-husband was an international pilot with American Airlines and was often away from home for weeks. She said he had joint custody of their children, and when he was out of town while on parental leave, the court ordered the children to stay with the doctor and his wife.
“I’ve always felt uncomfortable about Bob’s interactions with my kids, especially my son,” said Teri Anderson. “When I tried to voice my concern, I was immediately shut down … for how could anyone criticize this beloved doctor or his family?”
She appeared with Parker Stinar, a Denver, Colorado-based attorney who represents numerous people who claim they were molested by the UM doctor.
Stinar said Teri Anderson was not involved in the lawsuits against UM and has come forward because she believes the Anderson abuse played a role in her son’s death.
“Her goal is to raise awareness … she did this to hopefully save a life.”
Abuse claims date back to 1975
UM is in mediation with approx. More than 850 former UM students and others who claim they were sexually abused by Anderson.
According to a report commissioned by the university and published in May, University of Michigan officials knew as early as 1975 that Anderson had been charged with sexual misconduct.
The WilmerHale law firm report showed that more than two dozen UM employees had been briefed on Anderson’s alleged conduct during his nearly 40-year career. While several staff members reported Anderson after learning of complaints, the majority of people his patients told – including some of the most powerful people on campus – were not acting to stop the doctor, the report said.
Several officials, from coaches to university administrators, have received “credible reports” of Anderson, according to the WilmerHale report. These officials, according to the report, included Thomas Easthope, who was hired as vice-president of the Student Union in 1972 and was later promoted to vice-president; the legendary soccer coach Bo Schembechler; former track coaches Jack Harvey and Ron Warhurst; former wrestling coaches Bill Johannesen and Cal Jenkins; and former sporting director Don Canham.
Anderson was able to retire from the university in 2003. He died in 2008.
Anderson’s alleged wrongdoing included unnecessary hernia and rectal exams in patients who came to him for unrelated ailments, manual stimulation of male patients, and arrangements in which he provided medical services in exchange for sexual contact, the report said.
He is being accused by former soccer players, fellow university athletes and patients from his doctor’s office, as well as pilots who needed physical exams to obtain or maintain a license. For 40 years, Anderson was designated the area’s medical examiner by the Federal Aviation Administration, the Associated Press reported. Pilots, air traffic controllers and others who had to undergo a health check could make an appointment with him.
Anderson is also charged with collecting semen from an unknown number of men. Jonathan Vaughn, once a pre-eminent football player and black man, said the doctor collected semen from him several times three decades ago as a student and described the process as research into creating a “perfect black athlete,” named Vaughn.
Vaughn met with Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel earlier this year to request an investigation. Anderson researched male infertility and became interested in andrology, the study of disorders of the male reproductive system. He was also associated with a reproductive medicine clinic during his career, as research reports commissioned by UM show.
UM hired WilmerHale in March 2020, a month after Robert Julian Stone, a former college student, became the first man last year to publicly accuse Anderson of sexual misconduct nearly 50 years after an alleged incident. Stone shared his story exclusively with The Detroit News. This brought to light an 18-month UM investigation by Anderson that began after DeLuca’s 2018 letter but was not publicly announced.
UM apologized after the allegations surfaced and asked other potential victims to call a hotline to report complaints. The university also offered free advice and promised an investigation.