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US university agrees to pay $490M to settle sex abuse claims

09:03 20 January 2022 Author :  

The University of Michigan announced Wednesday that it reached a $490 million settlement with more than 1,000 people who alleged a former athletics team doctor sexually abused them.

The sexual misconduct dates to the 1970s and is focused on Robert Anderson, whom about 1,050 claimants said molested them during physical examinations, some of which were required to participate in team athletics. Survivors include two-time Super Bowl champion Dwight Hicks and Andy Hrovat, a world-class wrestler who competed in the 2008 Olympics.

Anderson, the disgraced athletic physician, died in 2008 after working for the school from 1966 to 2003.

The agreement is subject to approval by the university's Board of Regents as well as at least 98% of claimants and a US court.

Of the total $490 million settlement, $460 would be made available to claimants while $30 million would be reserved for future victims who step forward, the school said in a statement.

It added that the university will have no role in the distribution of the settlement, saying that will be determined by claimants and their attorneys.

“We hope this settlement will begin the healing process for survivors,” said Jordan Acker, the chair of the Board of Regents. “At the same time, the work that began two years ago, when the first brave survivors came forward, will continue.”

Anderson was never prosecuted for any wrongdoing and the school announced in 2020 that it was investigating the former physician. It asked victims to come forward following a then-secret probe that had spanned more than a year, according to the New York Times.

More than 100 survivors came forward in the two weeks after the university made its public appeal./agencies

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