Columbia University and its hospitals prosecuted for sexual abuse of doctors


Hadden is also named as a defendant in Tuesday's lawsuit. Columbia University and the NewYork-Presbyterian system are accused of "repeatedly and actively hiding, conspiring and allowing sexual exploitation and abuse to be committed by defendant Robert Hadden" as early as 1993. Hadden, who, according to court records, is a resident of New Jersey, could not be reached for comment. His lawyer in this case, Bill Vaslas, did not respond to several requests for comment. CNN was unable to identify Hadden's legal representation in the new case.

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According to the lawsuit, Hadden, who worked as an obstetrician at the defendants' medical facilities, repeatedly abused women, subjecting them to medically unnecessary vaginal and anal penetration, usually without gloves; "serial, prolonged and medically inappropriate breast exams" and questions about their sexual activity, including whether the sexual partner was able to "satisfy" them.


Of the 17 authors, 16 are anonymous. An accuser, "Jane Doe # 16" in court documents, was delivered by Hadden as a baby, and was in high school when she became his patient. According to the document, Hadden instructed Jane Doe # 16, a minor at the time, to "stay on all fours" during her initial visit, before starting to "rub both hands without gloves up and down", groping her, starting to "spread the buttocks" and perform a vaginal exam.

Hadden is also accused of licking patients' vaginas on several occasions during alleged medical examinations. "This guy had no background," Anthony DiPietro, the plaintiffs' lawyer, told CNN on Thursday.

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Marissa Hoechstetter, the only plaintiff named in the case, told CNN that after Hadden assaulted her during a May 2012 exam, she never came back to see him. Hoechstetter saw Hadden from 2009-2012. He was her doctor during and immediately after the pregnancy of two twin daughters. "It is so difficult to admit to yourself that it happened," she said.


Court records say Hadden made sexual comments to Hoechstetter during his time as a doctor. During his stay at the postpartum hospital, according to the lawsuit, Hadden went to the head of the bed, exposed her breasts and said, "You look like a porn star."

Hadden, along with Columbia University and its associated medical facilities, were also the defendants in a 2017 civil action. The 2017 lawsuit was filed by four unidentified claimants, accusing Hadden of sexual abuse and the university of failing to protect patients. This case is ongoing.

According to the lawsuit filed on Tuesday, a nurse who worked with Hadden at Columbia University's Audubon Clinic filed an abuse case in the early 1990s and reported him. The complaint says that the nurse was instructed to "be quiet" and "be with your doctor" and not "leave him in trouble". DiPietro told CNN that the purpose of Tuesday's process was to hold larger institutions accountable.

"These super predators cannot exist without the support of an institution around them," he said.


Hoechstetter agreed. "I think the institutions that employ and protect these people have a responsibility," she said. "This is a hospital. This is where people seek care."

A New York-Presbyterian spokesman declined to comment on this story. Columbia University said in a statement that "the allegations that led to Robert Hadden's guilty plea in 2016 and the charges contained in this recent complaint are hateful. Hadden has not practiced medicine at Columbia since 2012". The university added that while "I cannot comment on issues in litigation, we keep medical professionals everywhere condemning this terrible behavior."

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