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Anderson Survivors: Bo Schembechler Knew Of Abuse And Did Not Stop It

Emma Winowiecki
Michigan Radio

Former legendary late University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler knew about Dr. Robert Anderson's abuse as early as 1969. That's according to three survivors who came forward with detailed information at a press conference Thursday, including Schembechler's own son, Matt, who claims he was abused at the age of 10.

Also coming forward were former Michigan football players Daniel Kwiatkowski and Gilvanni Johnson, who were referenced anonymously in a university-commissioned report conducted by WilmerHale.

The three men described their experience with the late Anderson, noting that he made efforts to arouse them, digitally penetrated them, and inappropriately touched them.

"I was 17 years old and full of piss and vigor and wanting to become a Michigan Man and Michigan football player. But Bo didn't keep me safe. He broke his promise to me and my family in the fall of 1977," Kwiatkowski said at the conference. "Bo knew. Everybody knew. It's hard to share this story, but I hope that in doing so I can bring some peace to other survivors."

Johnson described coming to Bo Schembechler about what had happened to him while getting a physical before his freshman season in 1982. Bo told him he would look into it, but Johnson never heard anything about it again. Other players told Johnson to not bring it up with Bo again or else he might jeopardize his scholarship. Johnson saw Anderson about 15-20 more times during his career at Michigan.

"If Bo had stopped Dr. Anderson after the first exam my freshman year, the rest of the assaults would never have happened," Johnson said. "If he had stopped Dr. Anderson before 1982, I would not have been victimized at all."

Current Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh made comments earlier this month defending Bo Schembechler.

"I can tell you this," Harbaugh said to the media at a showcase event at Ferris State, Thursday, June 3. "Bo Schembechler ... there was nothing that I saw in the times when I was a kid here, my dad was on staff or when I played here ... he never sat on anything. He never procrastinated on anything. He took care of it before the sun went down. That's the Bo Schembechler that I know. There's nothing that ever was swept under the rug or ignored. He addressed everything in a timely fashion. That's the Bo Schembechler that I knew."

Several times during Thursday's press conference, Matt Schembechler urged those in attendance not to bring Harbaugh into the discussion and that his comments were not why he came forward.

"I love the Harbaugh family. Jim has nothing to do with this," Schembechler said. "Don't draw Jim Harbuagh into this. He deserves no negative feedback in this. Jim didn't know. As a kid he was a bit naive. Don't take shots at Jim. He doesn't deserve it."

However, Johnson confirmed that Harbaugh's comments did play a part in him coming forward.

"He don't know what I went through. He don't know what me and Bo said," Johnson said. "Like I said, he can say what he went through and what he did, but I know for myself that I told Bo and the relationship we had afterwards. I'm not saying that he did know, but I am saying there's no way that all of this goes on and you not even be privileged with information. Sometimes things are just overlooked."

All three men agreed that the University of Michigan needs to take accountability to ensure a situation like this does not happen again.

*Editor's Note: The University of Michigan holds Michigan Radio's license.

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