Throughout the bitter winter, during rain and snow, Jon Vaughn has alternated between sleeping in a tent or a campervan outside former University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel's house.
A former University of Michigan and NFL football player, Vaughn is one of more than 1,000 people — mostly men — who says they were abused by athletics doctor Robert Anderson, who worked for the university from 1966 to 2003 treating students across sports including football, track, and wrestling.
Anderson, who died in 2008, subjected students, 90% of whom were men, to "sexually abusive conduct" and invasive exams, including unnecessary genital and rectal examinations, according to a 2021 independent report commissioned by the university.? Many of Anderson's victims were Black — and survivors say this has played a part in why the abuse was allowed to continue for decades.
In his roles at the university, including director of its health service, team physician for the athletic department and a clinical instructor at the university's medical school, Anderson abused men and women from different racial backgrounds, undergraduate and graduate students, student athletes — including a two-time Super Bowl champion and former world-class wrestler — and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community, the report found.
The university missed numerous opportunities to stop him over his 37 year long career, it concluded.
This month the university announced a $490 million settlement with over a thousand victims of Anderson's alleged sexual abuse, pending approval by the Michigan Board of Regents and the claimants.
But despite the settlement, the University is still facing calls to take responsibility for its role in the abuse, which spanned more than three decades — as well as the university's failures to address alleged present day sexual misconduct and abuse by and of students and university staff.
Victims say that despite knowledge of Dr. Anderson's predatory behavior, U of M failed to take any action, and instead chose to continue enabling Dr. Anderson's abuse of vulnerable young men until his voluntary retirement in 2003.
"They've shown that over the last half century… [they're] uninterested in student safety as a priority," Vaughn, who played for U of M from 1988 to 1990 said.
"They've shown the inability to police themselves on a consistent basis, as pertains to sexual assault," he said.
Schlissel — who was fired this month from his position as President following an anonymous complaint suggesting that he "may have been involved in an inappropriate relationship with a University employee" — has apologized for Anderson's "tragic misconduct," and said in a statement that the university is committed to resolving victims' claims.
But Vaughn, 51, who was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer and has been protesting for more than 100 days says he will continue to sleep outside the university president's house until the University of Michigan addresses historic and alleged present day abuse, after realizing how "acute" issues of sexual assault, violence and rape are on campus.
Vaughn is also one of many involved in hundreds of individual lawsuits and a class-action lawsuits filed against the University and the Board of Regents by survivors.
Black men treated differently?
The allegations against Anderson mirror those against disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar at Michigan State University and Richard Strauss at Ohio State University. They too were doctors who abused their trusted positions to sexually exploit college students and athletes.?
With more than a thousand people — mostly men — coming forward to say they were abused by Anderson, attorneys representing the victims say it may be the largest case of sex abuse by a single person in the US. The scale of the alleged abuse surpasses that at Michigan State, Ohio State, and similar incidents at other US universities.?
But the case has received nowhere near as much media coverage as that of the abuse of Nassar.
A disproportionate number of the victims are African American, Vaughn told CNN.
"I don't think the world right now is ready to complete that spectrum of the face of abuse and include African-American men," Vaughn told CNN.?
Attorney Mike Cox, who is representing 174 victims in confidential federal court mediation with the University of Michigan told CNN that some 40% of the 1000 Anderson victims are African American men.
"We have not done a formal analysis because all are victims and viewed equally in that sense. But clearly the amount of African American victim survivors is much, much higher than their numbers in American society," Cox told CNN over email.
Black Americans represent just 13.4% of the American population.