The family of legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler has responded to the accusations he knew of team doctor Robert Anderson's alleged abuse, contradicting a group of accusers that includes Schembechler's own son.
Issuing a statement to the Detroit Free Press, Schembechler's second wife, son and daughter-in-law claimed to have never heard about Anderson's alleged behavior from their deceased patriarch and insisted he would have taken action if he knew of such conduct.
The key part of the statement, via the Free Press:
"It is telling to us that Bo never spoke to any of us about inappropriate behavior by Dr. Anderson," Cathy Schembechler, Bo's second wife; his son, Glenn "Shemy" Schembechler III and Shemy's wife, Megan, said in a statement issued through a spokesperson. "To the contrary, in our steadfast opinion, Bo was not aware of such conduct and assumed that any procedures were medically appropriate.
"As he demonstrated at many points in his career and to us as a family, Bo had a clear and compelling sense of right and wrong: he would not have tolerated misconduct, especially toward any of his players, family members, coaches or to anyone associated with the University of Michigan’s football program. If Bo had known of inappropriate conduct, we are certain that he would have stopped it immediately, reported it, and had Dr. Anderson removed from the University."
It might be worth noting that the only real denial that Schembechler knew of Anderson's alleged abuse is qualified with "in our steadfast opinion," and the only statement of fact is that the coach never told them of any such abuse. The last two sentences merely extoll Schembechler's character and posit that he would have taken action, hypothetically.
The statement did not address the accusations of Matt Schembechler, the coach's legally adopted stepson through his first marriage, who claimed earlier this week to have told Bo that Anderson sexually abused him when he was 10 years old and received a punch from his father in return.
The statement did, however, praise Schembechler as a father:
"Bo Schembechler was father and husband. A devoted Christian. He was inspiring, demanding, loyal, a fierce defender of his extensive family and a taskmaster who pushed everyone around him to be better, to be the best version of themselves possible."
The legacy of Schembechler, who died in 2006, has been under fire since a lawsuit alleged the coach took no action when a student told him Anderson had sexually abused him. The lawsuit claims that Schembechler instead reacted angrily to the allegation and referred the student to then-Michigan athletic director Don Canham. Both Anderson and Canham have also since died, Anderson in 2008 and Canham in 2005.
Hundreds of former patients have stepped forward with allegations of sexual assault against Anderson this year, claiming the doctor would put his finger in their rectums for nonmedical reasons, fondle or masturbate their genitals and make inappropriate sexual comments. Many of the accusers are former Michigan athletes.
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