OB-GYN Dr. Robert Hadden Sexual Misconduct: Who’s Affected?
Were you or a loved one a victim of sexual assault by Dr. Robert Hadden of Columbia University?
On Wednesday, Sept. 9, a federal indictment by the Department of Justice was unsealed which revealed that former Columbia University gynecologist Dr. Robert Hadden has reportedly been sexually abusing patients for over 20 years, including minors.
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, “As alleged, between 1993 and 2012, Robert Hadden sexually abused dozens of women and girls during Ob/Gyn examinations at his medical offices . . . [and] used the examinations of his victims for his own sexual gratification, abusing dozens of victims over a nearly 20-year period, including multiple minor girls, one of whom Hadden had himself delivered.”
Six victims are accusing Hadden of sexual abuse, according to the indictment. One prominent figure who has publicly accused Hadden is Evelyn Yang, wife of former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. It is not yet known if she is one of the six victims involved in the indictment.
The same morning, Hadden was arrested and charged on six counts of “enticing and inducing dozens of victims to travel to his medical offices in New York and subjecting them to unlawful sexual abuse,” reports CNN.
Who is Dr. Robert Hadden?
Dr. Robert Hadden was a gynecologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. Hadden worked for nearly 20 years at Columbia, and in that time, had reportedly sexually abused female patients throughout his career, including minors.
Now 62, Hadden is facing dozens of accusations of sexual misconduct, but has so far served no jail time.
Recent allegations of sexual abuse documented in an unsealsed federal indictment may change things for Hadden.
Hadden has faced accusations of sexual misconduct before. In 2014, he was indicted for criminal sex acts, but managed to secure a controversial plea deal in 2016.
While the deal involved giving up his medical license, it only required Hadden to plead guilty to a single felony count of criminal sexual act in the third degree and one misdemeanor count of forcible touching, and allowed him to completely avoid jail time—despite the testimonies from 19 patients who had accused Hadden of sexual abuse.
While the plea deal required Hadden to register as a sex offender, it downgraded his sex offender status to the lowest level. Hadden is not even listed in New York State’s online sex offender registry.
“The allegations show that Hadden acted as a predator in a white coat,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in a statement.
“He allegedly used the cover of conducting medical examinations to engage in sexual abuse that he passed off as normal and medically necessary, when it was neither normal nor necessary – it was criminal.”
What Sexual Assault Allegations Have Been Made Against Hadden?
The recent sexual assault allegations were made public after a federal indictment was unsealed on Sept. 9.
According to court documents, Hadden had been arrested that morning after allegations of sexual misconduct arose from dozens of women and girls who had a medical exam by him between 1993 and 2012.
The plaintiffs have cited abuse including verbal abuse, touching their genitals without gloves, and even licking their vagina during their medical exam.
NPR reports that the allegations have resulted in Hadden facing six federal counts of “enticing and inducing individuals to travel interstate to engage in illegal sexual activity,” each of which carries a 20-year prison sentence at maximum.
The six victims involved in these specific counts have not been named, so it is currently unclear if any of Hadden’s more prominent accusers—including Evelyn Yang, the wife of former presidential hopeful Andrew Yang—are involved.
In the newly unsealed indictment, prosecutors describe Hadden’s alleged abuse patterns, similar to what victims like Yang have previously publicly recounted.
Hadden would send medical staff out of the room in order to be alone with patients, share personal information about himself to gain patients’ trust, and ask personal questions in return, say prosecutors. Things would get too personal with Hadden asking inappropriate questions. Then, he allegedly “inappropriately touched, squeezed and even licked his victims in the course of what his victims thought were medically necessary gynecological and obstetric examinations,” Strauss said.
And because many of these victims were young and unfamiliar with proper gynecologist procedures, as well as trusting of the authority behind Hadden, they may not have understood what had happened to them.
Several other victims have come forward with accounts of their own alleged abuse by Hadden.
Another accuser, Jessica Chambers, tried to reason through her uncomfortable feelings about Hadden’s behavior in her medical exam.
“I’m thinking it’s very weird,” she told CNN. But, she thought, “he’s a doctor, we’re in Columbia—clearly what’s going on here must be normal and natural.”
“When you have this many people coming forward, I feel like you should be held to account again,” Chambers said. “And actually be held to account—like, go to jail.”
Was Columbia University Aware of the Abuse?
CNN has reported that Columbia University officials were warned about Hadden’s abusive behavior as early as the mid-1990s, shortly after he began his position there.
A letter from a former patient to Columbia officials in 1994, recently obtained by CNN, included specific allegations of abuse by Hadden. The head of the hospital’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology unit acknowledged the letter at the time, and said that her concerns would be addressed. However, the accuser says, she never heard from the official again.
The Columbia University lawsuit claims that the university “concealed Robert Hadden’s sexual abuse for decades, and continued to grant Robert Hadden unfettered access to vulnerable, unsuspecting” patients. Part of the motivation for this cover-up, the lawsuit claims, was to protect its “status amongst other Ivy League institutions … and (the university’s) own corporate and financial interests.”
Now, 25 years after that 1994 letter, Columbia provided this statement to CNN in response to the Columbia University lawsuit: “We are deeply disturbed by the accounts of Robert Hadden’s behavior that are now emerging. At the time of Hadden’s 2012 arrest, we did not know about the 1994 letter. Had we been aware of it, we would have shared that information with the District Attorney’s office. We are fully cooperating with the new investigation and are committed to following the truth wherever it leads.”
How Many Sexual Assault Complaints Have Been Filed?
A major civil suit was filed against Hadden and Columbia University in 2019 with dozens of accusers. Since Evelyn Yang came forward in January with her own allegations of abuse by Hadden, around 80 additional accusers have come forward. Now, there are more than 100 plaintiffs that have come forward with allegations about Hadden.
Two of the plaintiffs involved in the suit against Hadden were minors, ages 15 and 16, at the time of the alleged abuse.
“The abusive behavior alleged here took place over the course of nearly two decades, which means there could be many victims out there we have not heard from,” said William Sweeney Jr., the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office.”
How Has Columbia University Responded?
Plaintiffs in the Columbia University lawsuit claim that the school ignored warning signs about Hadden, including complaints from patients about Hadden.
The Columbia University lawsuit alleges that the school “actively and deliberately—and inexplicably—concealed Robert Hadden’s sexual abuse for decades, and continued to grant Robert Hadden unfettered access to vulnerable, unsuspecting, pregnant and non-pregnant female patients.”
Columbia has denied the allegations that the university didn’t act appropriately regarding claims of sexual abuse by Hadden over the course of decades, though it has otherwise remained silent about the current civil lawsuit.
How to Join a Dr. Robert Hadden Lawsuit
If you or someone you love suffered from sexual abuse at the hands of Dr. Robert Hadden while he worked at Columbia University, you may be able to join this Dr. Robert Hadden Columbia University class action lawsuit investigation to pursue compensation as well as justice.
Fill out the free form on this page to see if you qualify.
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