U-M abuse survivor: Settlement ‘relief’ but not the end

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan survivor says the University of Michigan $490 million settlement in the sexual abuse case involving late University of Michigan Dr. Robert Anderson is only the first step.

The university announced the settlement Wednesday with more than a thousand people who say they were sexually assaulted by Anderson who worked at the university from 1966 until his 2003 retirement. He died five years later.

“Mentally and emotionally, it was a great relief, but it’s only a first step,” JP DesCamp of Kalamazoo told News 8.

DesCamp was one of the first survivors to publicly come forward with allegations of sexual abuse in March 2020. The now-retired pilot says he was 22 years old when he was sexually molested and abused by Anderson in 1973.

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DesCamp and hundreds of other accusers recently sued the university, claiming U of M was aware of the abuse but did nothing to stop it.

“It’s ​reprehensible what has happened all these years and they sat on this and they’re now finally coming around to acknowledge it,” DesCamp said about the settlement agreement reached Wednesday. “Well, acknowledgement is one thing, but action is another and this is what I’m looking for.”

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Grand Rapids Attorney Stephen Drew, who served as a co-lead counsel representing DesCamp and his fellow survivors told News 8 he was satisfied with the settlement reached.

“I think a settlement of this nature does say, look we’ve got to change, we are sorry, we are going to start making changes,” Drew said. “And I think that’s important for our survivors to hear.”

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Drew, who also represented survivors in the case against Michigan State University and its disgraced former doctor Larry Nassar, said a settlement is part of the healing process for those who’ve suffered abuse.

“No amount of money can take away the pain… but you’ve got to at some point come to a point where you say… we’re sorry we let this happen,” Drew said.

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