The president and CEO of the Honolulu Marathon has joined a chorus of former students who have publicly accused a late University of Michigan doctor of sexual abuse, saying the physician performed a rectal exam on him during a medical appointment in the 1970s.
Dr. James Barahal, who himself is a longtime physician, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that Dr. Robert E. Anderson performed the ‘completely inappropriate act’ with his fingers when the then-medical student visited the student health center in 1975 complaining of a sore throat.
‘I remember leaving, and I can still picture the health center and walking through the waiting room, getting out on the street and it was like, “What was that?” Barahal said Monday.
Dr. James Barahal, president and CEO of the Honolulu Marathon (pictured left in 2006), has come out accusing the late University of Michigan doctor Robert E. Anderson (right) of sexually abusing him during a medical exam in 1975
Barahal is pictured in this throwback photo playing the guitar in Switzerland in 1977, two years after the incident at UM
Barahal, pictured with his wife of nearly 30 years, said he did not report the alleged abuse at the time but never forgot it
The 67-year-old who lives in Kailua, Hawaii, with his wife and college-age son, has headed up the Honolulu Marathon – one of the nation’s largest races – for more than 30 years and has been inducted into the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame.
Barahal has headed up the Honolulu Marathon – one of the nation’s largest races – for more than 30 years and has been inducted into the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame
Barahal was training with Michigan’s cross-country team in 1975 when he was ‘fast-tracked’ in to see Anderson, who was the director of the University Health Service as well as a physician to some of the Ann Arbor school’s athletic teams. Anderson died in 2008 aged 80, leaving behind a wife and three children.
University of Michigan officials were warned more than four decades ago that Anderson had been molesting patients during exams.
He was demoted but continued working there and went on to allegedly abuse again as a physician with the athletic department, according to documents from a police investigation the AP obtained through a public-records request.
The probe began in October 2018 based on a letter sent by a former wrestler to athletic director Warde Manuel in mid-July. It was not made public until last week.
Since then, a number of men alleging sexual abuse by Anderson, including Barahal, have retained law firms that are representing accusers who sued Michigan State University and Ohio State University in similar cases.
Andy Hrovat, 40, who competed for the United States in the 2008 Summer Olympics, spoke out last week, claiming that Anderson inappropriately touched him during medical exams when he was a freshman at UM in 1998.
UM alumni Robert Julian Stone, 69 (left), and Andy Hrovat, 40 (right), previously spoke out accusing Anderson of inappropriate touching two decades apart
Another former student, Gary Bailey, told the AP that Anderson dropped his pants and asked him to fondle his genitals in a medical exam during Bailey’s senior year in 1968 or 1969.
Bailey said he filled out a complaint form to the University Health Service within a month or so, writing that the behavior was ‘inappropriate.’
‘I never heard anything about it ever again,’ said Bailey, now 72.
Anderson (seen in the above undated file photo) died in 2008 at the age of 80. Several Michigan graduates have come forward and accused him of molestation spanning four decades
Robert Julian Stone, 69, told the AP last week that he was a 20-year-old UM junior when Anderson assaulted him by taking his hand and using it to fondle his own penis during a medical appointment at the university’s health center in 1971.
After the exam, Stone said he felt enraged and disgusted, but he never told anyone at the university about it.
The accusations of abuse at the University of Michigan and Ohio State bear striking similarities. The University of Minnesota is also investigating claims accusing a former assistant hockey coach of sexually abusing players.
University President Mark Schlissel apologized last week ‘to anyone who was harmed by Dr. Anderson,’ saying in a statement that the ‘patient-physician relationship involves a solemn commitment and trust.’
The school set up a hotline so that those who have information about Anderson could come forward.
Barahal, who called the hotline last week, said he did not speak to anybody about the violation immediately afterward or report it to the university or other authorities, but that he never forgot it.
‘It was embarrassing and inappropriate. But that´s not something that guys would generally talk about,’ he said.
The memories of that day rushed back, though, when he tuned in to his alma mater’s football games on television.
UM President Mark Schlissel told a Board of Regents meeting last week: ‘The allegations are highly disturbing. On behalf of the university, I apologize to anyone who was harmed by Dr. Anderson’
‘When they show at the beginning of the game the team running out to touch the “M” Club Go Blue banner, I’d occasionally see him – he was a pretty short guy and not very athletic – jumping up to try to touch the banner, which is a good luck thing for Michigan,’ Barahal said. ‘And it kind of brought that (memory) back. So, I told the story for years to people about how I went in for a sore throat, and he had his finger up my butt. I mean, I told that story for years.’
And he’s telling it now, publicly, Barahal said, to try to help fellow victims.
‘The sooner the university understands that not only was this physician capable of doing this, he did do it, then I think that everybody will be well on the road to whatever recovery, emotional or otherwise, that they seek,’ he said.
‘People really suffered (and) need to be believed. And the only way they´re going to be believed is if other people tell their story.’