NEW YORK — Columbia University and a university-affiliated hospital announced Monday that they will inform 6,500 former patients of disgraced gynecologist Robert Hadden about federal sex crimes for which he was convicted earlier this year.
Under the plan announced by Columbia and Columbia University Irving Medical Center, patients who were abused by Hadden over his decades-long career will be given the opportunity to seek compensation from a $100 million compensation fund.
Victims can also sue under New York’s Adult Survivors Act, but the one-year deadline for filing lawsuits ends after November 23.
Hadden was found guilty in January on four counts of enticing victims to cross state lines so he could sexually abuse them. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison in July.
Hadden, 65, previously pleaded guilty and admitted to sexually abusing patients.
Federal prosecutors said Hadden sexually abused patients from 1993 to at least 2012 while he worked at Irving Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
“We owe it to the courageous survivors and the entire Columbia community to fully address Hadden’s abuses,” said Columbia University President Minouche Shafik and Dr. Katrina Armstrong, CEO of Irving Medical Center, said in a press release. “Columbia has failed these survivors, and for that we are deeply sorry.”
Shafik and Armstrong said the multi-pronged plan to address the legacy of Hadden’s abuse will include an independent investigation to examine the failures that allowed the abuse to continue, as well as the establishment of a patient safety center.
Hadden’s accusers included Evelyn Yang, the wife of former presidential candidate and New York mayoral candidate Andrew Yang, who said Hadden abused her while she was pregnant with their first child.
Evelyn Yang, in a joint statement with prosecutor Marissa Hoechstetter, urged the university to increase the amount of the settlement fund and ensure that all of Hadden’s patients are notified before the Adult Survivor’s Act deadline.
“While we are pleased with the university’s plan to support survivors and examine its own failures, we remain committed to ensuring it follows through on these promises,” the statement said.
Laurie Moldonado was also among Hadden’s hundreds of victims. Hadden was her gynecologist in 2013 and she was sexually abused by him two days before her son was born.
She says Columbia is to blame and responsible for “enabling this serial sexual predator.”
“They knew and did nothing, and they kept putting women in danger,” Moldonado said. “They didn’t believe the survivors and now there are hundreds and hundreds and we are over 530 survivors who have come forward.”
University officials said nearly 6,500 former Hadden patients will be notified directly to make them aware of his conviction and sentence and to inform them of their right to sue or seek compensation from the settlement fund.
The fund will open in January 2024 and remain open for at least a year, it said.
An attorney for Hadden’s accusers said the former patients were being encouraged to participate in a settlement process that he said was underfunded and designed without victim input.
“I do not support this plan,” Anthony DiPietro said in an email statement, “because Columbia’s proposal allows the university and its lawyers to retain full authority to decide the value of each person’s claims. While our state and federal court systems “Although imperfect, they remain the best method for adjudicating civil disputes fairly and equitably.”
He says the solution is “woefully inadequate.”
“Columbia’s exposure in this case is over $1 billion. They covered up the abuse of Robert Hadden for 25 years,” DiPietro said. “Columbia lied to patients, gassed patients and covered up Hadden’s abuse. They have betrayed every form of trust imaginable. There is no way anything has changed. Columbia can’t be trusted.”
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