Bo Schembechler statue defaced with paint over Robert Anderson's sexual abuse allegations

·3-min read
Bo Schembechler statue at Michigan.
The Bo Schembechler statue at Michigan was defaced with paint. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Content warning: This story contains instances of sexual abuse and rape.

Bo Schembechler's statue at Michigan was defaced with red paint early Wednesday, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Splotches of red paint covered portions of the statue's face, shoulder, chest, leg and foot. The person responsible for defacing the statue also left a message in support of sexual abuse survivors. On the ground near the statue, the words "Bo knew #hailtothevictims" were spray painted in black.

An individual claiming to be responsible for the paint emailed the Detroit Free Press and said they wrote the message in support of the survivors of alleged sexual abuse by former Michigan doctor Robert Anderson.

"This action is done in solidarity with the Hail to the Victims campaign," the email read. "Bo Schembechler is long seen as an iconic Michigan coach, but he knew that Robert Anderson, the team's doctor in the 1970s and 1980s, was sexually assaulting countless players each year. When Bo's son confronted him about his own assault, Bo punched him and told him to keep quiet. Bo pulled strings and bent over backwards to ensure that Anderson could keep his job. It is time for the world to know that Bo is responsible for the abuse of innumerable Michigan football players."

Anderson was accused of 850 instances of sexual abuse, fondling and rape during physical therapy and checkups. Anderson — who died in 2008 — spent 35 years as the team physician at Michigan. Schembechler started coaching the team in 1969, and spent 20 seasons at Michigan.

A number of former Michigan players reportedly informed Schembechler — who died in 2006 — of the alleged abuse at the time, but Schembechler took no action against Anderson. Schembechler's stepson, Matt, said he was one of the people who informed Schembechler about Anderson's abuse after Matt was fondled and digitally penetrated by Anderson during an exam. Matt claimed he was punched by Schembechler after telling him about Anderson.

Michigan will look into vandalism of Bo Schembechler statue

University of Michigan spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald told the Detroit Free Press the school will investigate the situation and "hold those responsible accountable for their actions."

"We understand and appreciate the passionate advocacy on behalf of those who were abused by the late Robert Anderson," he said in a statement. "But the vandalism to the University of Michigan statue of Bo Schembechler will be investigated fully in order to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.

"We continue to work toward fair compensation for the Anderson survivors through the confidential, court-supervised mediation process and we are working every day to make our campus safer for every member of our community."

The statue incident occurred just days before Michigan plays Ohio State, the team's biggest rival.