Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation. Still, there are significant issues that male victims of sexual abuse endure when deciding to publicly speak out about their abuse. Some victims experience guilt and shame, believing that they should have been “strong enough” to fight the perpetrator.
Some men experience feelings of withdrawal from relationships or friendships, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and concerns about sexual orientation. Out of fear of society’s reaction, many men decide not to speak out about their past sexual abuse. Today, however, male students at Ohio State University and the University of Michigan have conquered that fear and have decided to publicly share the sexual abuse they endured at the hands of their team doctors.
Allegations of sexual abuse at Ohio State University (OSU) and the University of Michigan
Traditionally, OSU and Michigan are rivals on the football field. However, this year, former athletes from both universities decided to protest in front of Michigan president Mark Schlissel’s house to help shine a light on their sexual abuse experiences at the colleges. Jon Vaughn, a former running back for Michigan who would eventually play four years in the NFL, spearheaded the protest. The two universities have put their rivalry to the side to form a survivor solidarity group for sexual abuse victims.
Team doctors and a history of sexual abuse accusations
For seven weeks, Vaughn and many other fellow survivors from in and out of state have battled the weather and slept outside Schlissel’s home, speaking to students and passers-by about former Michigan team doctor Robert Anderson. Who is Robert Anderson? Anderson was the former team physician for the University of Michigan between the years 1966 and 2003.
Anderson is also accused of sexually abusing multiple Michigan athletes during the same time period. Anderson died in 2008, yet the consequences of his sexual abuse are still prominent today. The survivors of Anderson’s abuse have accused him of fondling them and repeatedly performed unnecessary genital and rectal exams. Sadly, Anderson never faced any legal repercussions for his crimes before his death.
While Anderson was at Michigan, another team physician at Ohio State was committing the same type of heinous acts against male athletes. Dr. Richard Strauss is accused of sexually assaulting hundreds of male athletes for decades. Similar to Anderson, Strauss committed these acts under the false guise of medical treatment.
Sadly, in September, a federal judge dismissed a majority of the remaining lawsuits holding the university liable for failing to stop the abuse. The judge acknowledged that while it is without question that Strauss abused hundreds of young men, he sided in favor of Ohio State’s argument that the statute of limitations expired.
Sexual abuse survivors deserve justice
In the wake of the sexual abuse allegations being shared with the public, both universities have issued apologies for the abuse and have taken steps to ensure that the same abuse does not happen in the future. However, many survivors have a difficult time believing this, because as the universities did little to prevent the abuse from happening in the first place.
While most students geared up for the game between Ohio State and the University of Michigan, Vaughn and other survivors created what could be described as an encampment. There are multiple tents posted around the campus, along with two poster boards reading “Support the Survivors” covered with hundreds of signatures. In addition to the poster boards, men wore T-shirts that read “#MeToo: They All Knew.”
Has Schlissel addressed the sexual abuse victims?
Even though the former athletes have been protesting on the campus for weeks, Vaughn states that he has yet to receive any personal acknowledgment from Schlissel. Despite Schlissel’s absence of acknowledgment, many students have been approaching Vaughn and sharing their own personal stories of assault.
Tad DeLuca, one of the whistleblowers concerning Anderson’s abuse, told The Guardian that one woman shared a personal story describing her own rape on campus during the first day that he and Vaughn were protesting. DeLuca estimates that between 300 and 400 students have already spoken with them.
How are students joining in on the protests?
Students are joining in on the protests by calling out other parties who were privy to the sexual abuse going on. One example includes splashing a statue of Michigan’s former head football coach Bo Schembechler with red paint. Vaughn states that Schembechler’s time overlapped with Anderson’s time, and even Schembechler’s son has stated publicly that he knew about the abuse happening at the University of Michigan.
Although there has been overwhelming support from the student body, faculty members like Michigan’s current head coach, Jim Harbaugh, have supported Schembechler. According to Harbaugh, Schembechler did not have any reason to hide behind the allegations, saying he addressed everything in a timely fashion.
Despite the mixed reactions by the student body and faculty, many of the victimized men are beginning to come to terms with the years of trauma, and learning how the trauma manifested itself in various ways. Some of the survivors expressed that they would avoid routine doctor visits, while some of the survivors came to terms with internalized rage and alcohol abuse.
Even while tailgating and participating in the festivities, many people approached the survivor solidarity group and expressed their condolences, along with confessions that they too were molested at the university. The survivor solidarity group has done an amazing job protesting and bringing awareness to a dark chapter in many students’ lives.
You can trust the Los Angeles sexual assault attorneys at Taylor & Ring to provide you and your loved one with legal representation that is honest, reliable, and aggressive. Call us today at 310-776-6390 or complete our contact form to schedule a confidential and free initial consultation. We value each of our clients and continuously strive to provide them with high-quality representation.