The Bo Schembechler statue on the University of Michigan’s campus was vandalized overnight Tuesday with red paint and a message of support for the survivors of Robert Anderson’s sexual assaults.
The statue is located in front of the football building and as of about 8 a.m. Wednesday still had red paint splashed on it, including some on Schembechler’s face. In black, on the ground, the words “Bo knew #hailtothevictims” were written.
The football parking lot was full of cars parked in coaches’ assigned parking spaces as they prepared for Saturday’s game against Ohio State University. A cleanup crew began scrubbing the statue around 8:30 a.m.
An email was sent to the Free Press on Wednesday morning claiming responsibility. It came from an anonymous “Boknew” email address.
“The person responsible is an anonymous local resident who stated: ‘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.”
U-M spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the university was looking into the vandalism.
“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.”
Hundreds of people — mostly male athletes — are suing the university claiming Anderson, a medical doctor, sexually assaulted them over his decadeslong career under the guise of medical treatment. Several people, including Schembechler’s adopted son, have said in recent months they told Schembechler about the ongoing abuse.
Former football player Jon Vaughn has been staging a sit-in in front of U-M President Mark Schlissel’s on-campus house since early October.
Vaughn was scheduled to be joined by former Ohio State University wrestler, survivor and attorney Rocky Ratliff on Wednesday afternoon. Ratliff was sexually assaulted by university physician Dr. Richard Strauss. He is now an attorney representing more than 40 other Ohio State University survivors of Dr. Strauss.
The pair planned to tell reporters both schools failed their athletes and were more worried about image than survivors.
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