Former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Aaron Ward came forward to reveal that he was a victim of the disgraced late Dr. Robert Anderson at the University of Michigan while a student athlete at the school.
Ward spent three years playing for the Wolverines from 1990 to 1993.
While speaking during an interview on TSN 690 in Montreal, Ward admitted the abuse he suffered contributed to a gambling problem he’d suffer later in life.
“When I was in college and I was 17 and 18, I was sexually abused by a doctor who was at the University of Michigan who’s currently publicly under investigation,” said Ward, later confirming Dr. Anderson’s identity. “Listen, I was married 20 years and my ex-wife did not know that, not an ounce of that. But you come to a place of realizing that when you finally let go of these things and when you share with people, whether you deem them embarrassing, whether you can’t come to grips with the reality, if you take the chance and you verbalize it, you can quickly find out that people can either kind of relate to what you’re going through or they can just be there (for you).
“So as I admit that on radio, that I was sexually abused by a doctor in a professional environment at the University of Michigan and suppressed it forever, it is liberating as you drop these things from your conscience. I spent, since I was 17 years old when that happened, trying to figure out why I gambled since I was 17. That’s not the only reason, but it’s a contributing factor.”
Anderson, who died in 2008, is accused of more than 800 instances of abuse of student-athletes spanning multiple decades. He was able to remain a top physician at the school through 2003 despite being fired in 1979 as Michigan’s director of health services after allegations of abuse.
Early last year, University President Mark Schlissel issued a formal apology to anyone who was abused by Anderson, and also introduced a hotline for victims to call.
Ward is a veteran of 839 NHL games, and was a member of the 1997 and 1998 Stanley Cup-winning Red Wings teams. He also played for the Carolina Hurricanes, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and Anaheim Ducks. He also later worked as an analyst for TSN.
– – Quotes via Will Burchfield of 97.1 The Ticket Link – –