Former Gynecologist Convicted of Sexually Abusing Over 200 Patients to Face 20-Year Prison Term

The judge in the case announced on Monday that a former gynecologist who has been charged with sexually abusing more than 200 patients over the course of decades will receive a 20-year prison sentence.

Judge Richard Berman referred to Robert Hadden's behavior as "lewd, serious, out of control, depraved, extraordinary," and said the case was "like no other" in his assessment of Hadden's actions as a former doctor at Columbia University. In addition, Berman said he would sentence Hadden, 64, to lifelong supervision following his release. When the hearing is over on Tuesday, the sentence should be decided.

Hadden was accused of sexually abusing patients during what were supposed to be gynecological examinations while they traveled between states for their appointments with him. In the 2020 indictment, prosecutors claimed that between 1993 and 2012, Hadden assaulted "dozens of female patients, including numerous minors." 

A nurse and a former medical assistant testified at Hadden's trial that they saw additional assaults in addition to the four victims who came to New York City for appointments from as far away as Nevada. Five additional women also claimed that Hadden had abused them.

The trial featured "credible" evidence pertaining to 40 victims in total, Berman claimed on Monday. He added that a pre-sentence report from the U.S. probation office pegged the total number of potential victims at "at least about 245."

Berman recommended significantly more prison time than the approximately five-year sentence the sentencing guidelines suggested due to Hadden's "prolific" history of abuse, which he described as likely dating back to the 1980s, and the vulnerability of his patients, the majority of whom were pregnant.

For the majority of the nearly four-hour sentencing hearing, Hadden sat hunched over in his beige jail uniform, his face resting in his palm. A large crowd watched in two different courtrooms, some of which were filled with his former patients and became emotional as Berman described Hadden's abuse.  

In court filings, the prosecution had requested 25 years, while the defense team had argued for three.

Jurors heard testimony from women who had been Hadden's patients for a long time during the trial. They talked about how they had trusted him to guide them through pregnancy complications and other problems, as well as the times when that trust had been irreparably betrayed.

Many claimed that Hadden would frequently appear to be finishing exams only to turn around just as the nurse left the room and claim he needed to check something else.

The former patients claimed that during these times, he would pretend to be performing an exam while sticking his tongue or bare fingers into their vaginas or fondling them for several minutes.

One woman remembered the terror she felt when Hadden said, "One minute, stay there," just after a nurse left the room. Oh my, something must be wrong, she said, fearing that he was looking at a medical problem.

I paid attention and trusted him. She said, "I trusted him, and then he took off his gloves and beat me with his hands and his tongue. 

"How the hell am I going to get out of here was all I could think about. I have to leave this place," she proclaimed.

Attorney Anthony DiPietro praised the survivors for coming forward and said that he had successfully defended dozens of Hadden's former patients in lawsuits against Columbia University. 

DiPietro said, "You've actually done for that institution something they have repeatedly shown they couldn't do for themselves: get rid of this serial sexual predator. 

"While I hope that today, if it hasn't already, ushers in the end of a chapter for each of you who have come into contact with this predator, I hope that today can also serve as the beginning of the transition from survival to healing and growth."

In their opening remarks, the defense attorneys did not deny Hadden's guilt of assaulting the women, stating that "the harm they suffered is real and in some cases very raw." Hadden's lawyers disagreed that prosecutors could show that Hadden had persuaded the women to cross state lines.

Deirdre von Dornum, Hadden's attorney, claimed that the two women at the center of the case made their own appointments with Hadden.

She argued during the January trial, "Cancel him, condemn him, do not convict him of a crime he did not commit."

She objected to the length of the sentence Berman suggested on Monday, claiming the judge was basing his judgment on just two witness accounts when adding up the dozens of victims he took into account. 


Hadden previously pleaded guilty to two New York State charges of third-degree criminal sex acts and forcible touching in 2016. More than 200 of his former patients reached settlements in their legal battles with Columbia University, forking over more than $230 million in total. The allegations against him were at the center of a campaign to pass the New York Adult Survivors Act, which became effective in November and gave sexual abuse survivors a one-year window to file lawsuits that would otherwise be time-barred by statutes of limitations.

The Irving Medical Center at Columbia University expressed its "profound regret" for the suffering Robert Hadden's patients endured and for abusing their trust in a statement to CBS News. 

The spokesperson said that Hadden's prosecution, which resulted in his conviction for federal crimes, "showed how he deliberately worked to evade our oversight and engineer situations to abuse his patients." "We applaud all the women who came forward, particularly those who shared their experiences so openly during these judicial proceedings," the statement reads.

Hadden has refuted all claims and accusations outside of the two for which he pleaded guilty in 2016. Hadden was given the lowest level of sex-offender status under that deal, which meant he was spared jail time and was not added to the state of New York's online sex offender registry.

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