University of Michigan won’t change investigation into abuse

ANN ARBOR, Michigan (AP) — University of Michigan leaders said on Friday that they plan to stay the course with their own investigation into allegations a deceased team doctor molested hundreds of people going back decades, declining the state attorney general’s offer to get involved and angering lawyers for the accusers, who described the school’s stance as shameful.

In response to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel saying last Thursday she would investigate the claims against Dr Robert E Anderson and how the school dealt with them, but only if the school fully cooperates, the university released a statement on Friday from its President, Mark Schlissel, and eight-member board of regents.

“We have met with, and sought counsel from, survivors, doctors and mental health experts and believe we are overseeing a process that will ultimately serve as the best course of action for the survivors and University community,” the school said.

The response didn’t mention Nessel, but lawyers for some of Anderson’s accusers wasted no time in offering their take on what the school was saying.

“The attorney general was very specific: Will you be transparent? Clearly, the answer this morning is, `No, we won’t’,” John Manly, an attorney for more than 50 accusers, told The Associated Press.

Asked later whether the university would waive attorney-client privilege for a Nessel investigation, which she said would be a prerequisite for her getting involved, school spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen said: “Right now, we are focussed on ensuring a thorough and independent investigation with an external firm. It would be inappropriate for me to speculate on what we might do going forward.”

Nessel said she would welcome a request from the university to investigate, but she first asked for a commitment to waive attorney-client privilege and to turn over documents, explaining she didn’t want “half-truths”. She also said the Legislature should commit to funding an investigation.

The attorney general’s investigation into sexual abuse allegations against Larry Nassar at Michigan State University led to charges against three former school officials despite a court battle over documents. Nessel, though, does not appear to be interested in moving forward with a probe without Michigan’s cooperation.

“The last thing we want to do is give people false hope that we’re going to be able to truly explain exactly what it is that occurred when we know there’s no way that we’ll be able to do that if the university is not going to cooperate with an investigation,” Nessel said.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. PHOTO: AP