CBS Detroit – Two legislators are fighting to help victims of sexual abuse by a University of Michigan doctor have the legal recourse to sue the university. According to Mlive, there is currently a statute of limitations of three years for people abused while receiving medical care.

Credit: MichiganRadio.org / University of Michigan / Bentley historical Library – Dr. Robert E. Anderson

Representatives Ryan Berman R-Commerce Twp. and Karen Whitsett, D-Detroit, have reintroduced House Bills 6237 and 6238 that if passed, would lift the statute of limitations of sexual abuse but also limit the circumstances an institution could declare governmental immunity under the circumstances someone who was abused by someone in the medical field.

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The bills were inspired by the case of the late Dr. Robert E. Anderson. As a doctor for UofM, he treated students for 24 years. While Anderson was ousted in 1979, he continued on in a medical capacity at UofM until his retirement in 2003. Working as a doctor in the athletics department and other areas according to the Detroit News. At the time of his retirement, he was the key doctor for Michigan’s football program.

Anderson died in 2008, but the fallout of sexual abuse victims coming forward looking for justice for what they claim the late-doctor did to them continues to haunt the university. In fact, more than 100 lawsuits have been filed by former student-athletes who claim Anderson fondled their genitals and performed unnecessary prostate exams.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has put a delay on the legislature’s schedule, and MLive reports Representative Berman said anything not COVID-19 related isn’t a priority. According to Berman, they are reintroducing these bills to get them back into the two-year legislative cycle so the process can begin to get them passed as laws. House Bills 6237 and 6238 have bipartisan support, and for Representative Whitsettit is very personal to her, being a victim of sexual abuse herself. She told Mlive she was afraid to come forward feeling scared, embarrassed, and traumatized. She hopes these bills will hold people accountable for their actions. Which in this case, it’s reported that UofM knew about Anderson’s actions early on and still employed elsewhere at the university. “… In this day and age, with COVID-19 going on, so many issues like this are being pushed to the side, and my colleague and I are not going to be deterred by that.” Whitsett told MLive.

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Charlie Forbes