Victims of gynecologist convicted of sex crimes urge judge to impose maximum prison term
Jun 28, 2023, 2:57 PM
NEW YORK (AP) — Eleven victims of a gynecologist who practiced at prestigious New York hospitals before he was convicted of sexually abusing women over several decades made emotional statements about their continuing pain as they asked a federal judge Wednesday to keep him behind bars as long as possible.
Many of the women spoke anonymously in Manhattan federal court as they described in detail the sexual abuse they suffered during visits to Robert Hadden, 64, whose career at prominent hospitals including Columbia University Irving Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital spanned from the late 1980s until 2012.
“Robert Hadden is a sexual predator disguised in a white coat,” said one woman, who spoke under the pseudonym Emily Anderson.
Many of them thanked Judge Richard M. Berman, who will announce the sentence for Hadden on July 24, when the sentencing hearing that began with victim statements on Wednesday continues. Berman responded by praising the women as “brave” and “eloquent.”
The women included a former research nurse at Columbia University Irving Medical Center who says she hopes Hadden spends the rest of his life behind bars.
Hadden, of Englewood, New Jersey, was convicted in January of enticing victims to cross state lines so he could sexually abuse them. At trial, nine former patients testified. He has been incarcerated for the last several months.
Prosecutors have asked Berman to sentence him to at least 25 years in prison, while defense attorneys have requested three years behind bars.
Hadden’s attorneys say he has lost 35 pounds and repeatedly been threatened with violence at a federal jail in Brooklyn, leading him to stay in his cell except to shower or call family members.
Prosecutors say Hadden’s abuse of women began soon after he started working in 1987 at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, which later became New York-Presbyterian Hospital. The institutions have agreed to pay more than $236 million to settle civil claims by more than 200 former patients.
Trial evidence proved Hadden committed anywhere from 167 to 310 acts of sexual abuse or assault on dozens of patients as he honed his abuse techniques so the assaults would go undetected for over 20 years, prosecutors wrote in a presentence submission.
Prosecutors said he sought sexual gratification when he asked victims “detailed, inappropriate, and medically unnecessary questions and provided unsolicited advice and commentary about their bodies, pubic hair, masturbation, sexual activity, sex toys, pornography, and sexual partners.”
Among those who spoke in court on Wednesday was Laurie Kanyok, who noted that it would be exactly 11 years on Thursday since she emerged from an appointment with Hadden and called police, setting off a state investigation that led to a plea deal but no jail sentence.
She said her own daughter is now 11 years old and she knows she’ll soon have to introduce her to gynecological care.
“This petrifies me,” she told Berman.
Outside the courthouse after the hearing, Kanyok spoke to reporters, saying she found the statements by other victims inspiring.
“He walked in today with a big smile waving at people. No remorse,” she said.
Amy Yoney, who was employed by Columbia as a research nurse in the Department of Cardiology, said outside the courthouse that she was a victim of Hadden herself for nearly 12 years and feels “intense guilt” that she referred her best friend and others to Hadden, thinking he was a trusted physician.
“He walks into the courtroom and he acts like he’s at happy hour. He waves, he looks around. I think he is a true sociopath,” she said.
Yoney said she blamed Columbia for not heeding complaints about Hadden and warning signs.
“I don’t think if flew under the radar. I think that they swept it under the rug for whatever reason, whether it was to make sure that research money wasn’t taken away or their name wasn’t tarnished,” said Yoney, who now works in research for a small biotech company in another state.
Attorney Anthony T. Dipietro, who represents numerous Hadden victims, said women continue to surface to say they too were victims of Hadden. He said he believes Hadden treated between 6,000 and 8,000 women and that his victims number in the “hundreds, if not thousands.”
“Don’t forget these women started in this case before anyone heard of MeToo,” he said.
The Associated Press generally withholds the names of sexual abuse victims from stories unless they have decided to tell their stories publicly, which Kanyok and Yoney have done.