Columbia University and its associated hospitals “actively and deliberately” – and inexplicably – covered up the sexual abuse of several patients by one of its obstetricians, according to a lawsuit filed by 17 women. Instead, the university and hospitals “continued to grant Robert Hadden unfettered access to vulnerable, unsuspecting, pregnant and non-pregnant female patients,” the lawsuit claims.
The women claim that under the guise of performing medical exams Hadden licked them, digitally penetrated their vaginas without gloves, and fondled their breasts and anuses. Only one plaintiff, Marissa Hoechstetter, has revealed her name, a decision she said she made after years of struggling to process what her obstetrician had done to her.
“It has deeply affected my life. I did not go to doctors for a number of years. I have to think really carefully about who I’m going to see,” she told CBS News.
Hoechstetter said Hadden treated her throughout her pregnancy with twins and the year after. She said she overlooked his inappropriate sexual comments, and prolonged and unnecessary breast exams because she was concerned about her twins’ health. It wasn’t until a year after her twins were born that she realized she had been violated by Hadden when he licked her. “And I knew that that happened and I never went back to the office again.”
In 2016, Hadden pled guilty for criminal sex acts on just two women. Under the plea agreement, he didn’t serve any time in prison. Instead, he lost his medical license and entered guilty pleas for two of the women. His status as a sexual offender was also downgraded to the lowest level so that he did not need to register with New York State’s online sex offender registry.
Since his 2016 plea deal, however, other women have come forward with stories about Hadden describing how he ordered them to undress and bend over in order for him to examine them from behind. They claim he prodded inside them with ungloved fingers as well as his tongue. But his plea deal protects him from being prosecuted on charges made by the other women.
Hoechstetter can’t put Hadden behind bars. But she and the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit can go after Columbia University and its hospitals for knowingly turning a blind eye.
Source: CBS News