17 women sue Columbia over doctor’s alleged sexual assaultsDecember 6, 2018
Seventeen women who say they were sexually assaulted by gynecologist Robert Hadden are suing Columbia University and its affiliated hospitals, accusing them of covering up the doctor’s behavior for decades.
“Despite the fact that medical chaperones, nurses, supervisors, administrators, doctors and other hospital personnel were aware of the sexual exploitation and abuse being perpetrated by Robert Hadden, dating back to at least the 1990’s … [the defendants] actively and deliberately — and inexplicably — concealed Robert Hadden’s sexual abuse for decades,” alleges the suit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Hadden was previously charged with sexually abusing six patients but took a no-jail plea deal in 2016, copping to criminal sexual act and forcible touching and agreeing to forfeit his medical license and register as a sex offender.
The women now suing Hadden accuse him of a long list of twisted acts, including “fondling, ogling, penetrating and groping” their bodies — and “surreptitiously licking countless patients’
vaginas during the performance of phony, and medically unnecessary, vaginal examinations and PAP smears.”
Marissa Hoechstetter, the only plaintiff using her real name in the suit, says Hadden was her OBGYN between 2009 and 2012, during which time he asked her inappropriate questions about her sex life, groped her breasts, and licked and touched her vagina without gloves.
While she was in the hospital after giving birth to twins in 2011, she alleges he exposed her breasts and told her: “You look like a porn star.”
“From the start, there were inappropriate questions. There was a lot of touching. There were exams without nurses or other people in the room, and on the last occasion, when I knew that something happened, he licked me. And I knew that that happened and I never went back to the office again,” Hoechstetter told CBS News.
“It has destroyed the memories of my pregnancy. What should have been really a very joyful time in one’s life when I look back on it, it’s a horrible memory. There was a time when I would look at my daughters and almost resent them for being the reason that I was seeing this person in the first place.”
In addition to unspecified damages, the women are suing to have Hadden’s name removed from their kids’ birth certificates.
In a statement, Columbia University said it can’t comment on active litigation, but that it stands “with medical professionals everywhere in condemning this appalling behavior.”
“The allegations leading to Robert Hadden’s 2016 guilty plea and the accusations contained in this recent complaint are abhorrent. Mr. Hadden has not practiced medicine at Columbia since 2012,” the university said.
A lawyer for Hadden couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
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