U. of Michigan seeks to remove law firm in sex abuse suits

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              FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan shows Dr. Robert E. Anderson. The University of Michigan said Wednesday, May 13, 2020, that it is seeking to remove a law firm it hired to handle lawsuits following hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse by Anderson, a sports doctor who worked at the school for decades. (Robert Kalmbach/Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan via AP)
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The University of Michigan said Wednesday that it is seeking to remove a law firm it hired to handle lawsuits following hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse by Dr. Robert Anderson, a sports doctor who worked at the school for decades.

It’s the second time the university has sought to remove a firm helping handle the allegations. It previously replaced a firm that was hired to help with the university’s investigation, which is separate from the lawsuits.

University officials said a motion was filed Wednesday to withdraw Troy, Michigan-based Bush Seyferth, according to The Detroit News.

The firm was hired in March. University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald did not explain why the university wants to remove Bush Seyferth or whether another firm has been hired to handle lawsuits.

The school said in April that it hoped to settle the lawsuits. Bush Seyferth already has filed motions to dismiss 19 lawsuits against the university.

The Associated Press left a voicemail Wednesday afternoon seeking comment from Bush Seyferth.

Campus police began looking into Anderson in 2018 after a former student-athlete wrote to athletic director Warde Manuel about being sexually abused by Anderson during medical exams in the early 1970s.

Anderson worked at the university from the mid-1960s through 2003. He died in 2008.

The university hired Steptoe & Johnson to continue the investigation but in March announced it was replacing that law firm.

Steptoe & Johnson lawyers have represented Jeffrey Epstein, the financier who killed himself last year while awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing girls, and director Roman Polanski, still wanted in the U.S. decades after he was charged with raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

WilmerHale succeeded Steptoe & Johnson on the investigation and continues to handle that investigation, Fitzgerald said.

Bush Seyferth’s role was only to represent the university in the lawsuits, he added.