A civil lawsuit filed Tuesday against Columbia University alleges former gynecologist Robert Hadden—who was convicted on sexual abuse charges earlier this year—sexually abused an additional 301 victims while working for the university, while Columbia administrators, nurses and other doctors worked to cover up the abuse.
The lawsuit filed in the New York Supreme Court on Tuesday alleges Hadden, 64, is “the most prolific serial sexual predator in New York State history.”
Anthony DiPietro, an attorney representing the alleged victims, wrote in the suit that Columbia University staff knew about sexual abuse allegations against Hadden as early as 1994, when a complaint sent to the acting chair of the obstetrics and gynecology department claimed Hadden was abusing patients.
Instead of reporting Hadden to law enforcement, medical staff worked to “conspire” with Hadden while they “[concealed] his crimes from the authorities and gaslight their patients” while enabling Hadden’s behavior, according to the suit.
The suit claims Hadden often abused his victims while nurses and other doctors were present who did nothing to prevent the abuse, and allegedly conducted unnecessary breast, vaginal and rectal examinations without wearing gloves, among other claims of abuse.
DiPietro requested Columbia to send notices to former patients who received care while Hadden worked for the university, adding he believes Hadden treated an estimated 10,000 women, many of whom he believes were unaware they were abused.
Columbia did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.
Columbia University president Minouche Shafik and Katrina Armstrong, CEO of Columbia University Irving Medical Center, released an apology last month that said the university “continues to grapple with the magnitude of harm done to” Hadden’s patients. Evelyn Yang, one of Hadden’s victims and the wife of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, condemned the apology, claiming “there is no ownership of the university’s past—and ongoing—failures.” Yang added the apology “comes from a place of self-preservation,” and does not acknowledge that Columbia “enabled and protected Hadden’s abuse.”
Hadden was sentenced to 20 years in prison earlier this year for “enticing and inducing” four victims to travel to his New York-based office, where he then sexually abused them. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said Hadden had sexually abused and assaulted “numerous” patients for 25 years, while “exploiting them in vulnerable moments for his own sexual gratification.” An indictment claims Hadden first began sexually abusing and assaulting patients in 1987, and continued doing so up until 2012, when a former patient told police that Hadden had assaulted her during an examination. Other patients subsequently came forward, and Hadden was indicted on sexual abuse charges in 2014. Hadden pleaded guilty to a single count of criminal sexual act in the third degree and a count of forcible touching in a deal with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, according to the New York Times, allowing Hadden—who also gave up his medical license—to avoid prison time. Another investigation into abuse allegations against Hadden was opened in 2019, after Yang told CNN that she was one of Hadden’s victims.
The number of survivors in the cases against Hadden is now about equal to the number of survivors in the case against Larry Nassar, a former doctor at Michigan State University who was convicted of sexually abusing multiple athletes, according to the Wall Street Journal. Nassar is believed to have abused more than 500 victims, while prosecutors said earlier this year they believe Hadden abused at least 245 women. This is before the additional 301 alleged victims filed Tuesday’s lawsuit.
$242 million. That’s how much Columbia University paid in combined settlements to 226 former patients who accused Hadden of sexual abuse.
Columbia University Gynecologist Had Hundreds More Sex-Abuse Victims, Lawsuit Claims (Wall Street Journal)
How Columbia Ignored Women, Undermined Prosecutors And Protected A Predator For More Than 20 Years (ProPublica)
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