New York

NYC gynecologist who sexually abused dozens of patients sentenced to 20 years in prison

Robert Hadden, of Englewood, New Jersey, was convicted in January of enticing victims to cross state lines so he could sexually abuse them.

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What to Know

  • A former gynecologist was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the sexual abuse of dozens of patients for over two decades at prestigious New York hospitals, according to prosecutors.
  • The judge in the case imposed the maximum penalty for each count Hadden was convicted of, describing his conduct as "shocking in the extreme," "horrific," and "depraved." 
  • 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.

A former gynecologist was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the sexual abuse of dozens of patients for over two decades at prestigious New York hospitals, according to prosecutors.

Robert Hadden was sentenced Tuesday by Judge Richard M. Berman, who was initially set to hand down the punishment Monday but extended the hearing into the next day in order to resolve some legal issues. Berman imposed the maximum penalty for each count Hadden was convicted of, describing his conduct as "shocking in the extreme," "horrific," and "depraved." 

A 20-year sentence is four times the roughly four-to-five-year term that the judge concluded federal sentencing guidelines recommend. In handing down the sentence, Berman discussed the scope and magnitude of Hadden's pattern of abuse and his "skillfulness at deception."

The sentence was a measure of vindication for hundreds of former patients who accused Hadden, 64, of molesting them during examinations but saw an earlier prosecution end with a plea bargain that spared him from jail. Hadden had been in custody since his January conviction on four counts of enticing victims to cross state lines so he could sexually abuse them.

The guidelines are calculated for each case to ensure that people convicted of specific crimes generally are treated equally, and judges can go below or above guidelines but must explain why.

The judge said the crimes Hadden committed while working at hospitals including Columbia University Irving Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital merited a longer sentence. Berman noted that the government has reported that at least 245 women among thousands he treated have claimed they were abused by Hadden, though the federal trial involved a smaller number of victims.

The sentencing drew a complaint from defense attorney Deirdre von Dornum. She said it was overly harsh and asked the judge Tuesday to credit her client for his efforts to reform himself and his devotion to his family.

“Here you have somebody who has already lost everything, and you’re giving him effectively a life sentence,” Dornum said.

The lawyer said her client was enduring harsh jail conditions at a federal lockup in Brooklyn, where inmates make threats and extort him to turn over his commissary money.

Given his chance to speak Tuesday, Hadden stood with his hands folded before him to say that there was “much I’d like to say” but that he had been advised by his lawyers to keep his statement brief.

“I’m very sorry for all the pain that I have caused,” a sobbing Hadden said before dropping his head down as he sat again. He then took off his glasses and wiped tears from his eyes.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams didn't directly address the length of the sentence, instead took the opportunity to commend the victims who came forward to testify during the trial.

"Under the guise of medical treatment, Robert Hadden sexually abused and assaulted numerous patients for approximately 25 years, exploiting them in vulnerable moments for his own sexual gratification," Williams said in a statement. "We thank and commend the victims who bravely came forward to share their stories and ensure that their abuser faces justice.” 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane Kim said Tuesday that Hadden still had not accepted responsibility for his crimes.

She said he “still has the same sexual disorders he had as he carried out his career of sexual abuse.”

Robert Hadden was found guilty of enticing victims to cross state lines in order to sexually abuse them. Nine former patients testified during the two-week trial, describing the sexual abuse that occurred during medical exams.

Nine victims spoke at the first stage of the sentencing hearing late last month. Several attended the proceeding on Monday but were not invited to speak again.

At trial, women testified in graphic detail that Hadden repeatedly forced them to submit to sexualized breast exams and touched their vaginas in ways that seemed sexual rather than for a medical purpose. They urged the judge to give him the maximum prison sentence possible.

“Robert Hadden is a sexual predator disguised in a white coat,” one woman, who spoke under the pseudonym Emily Anderson, told Berman last month.

In 1987, Hadden started working at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, which later became New York-Presbyterian Hospital. The abuse stretched until around 2012, prosecutors said. The institutions have agreed to pay more than $236 million to settle civil claims by more than 200 former patients.

According to trial testimony, Hadden benefited from the prestige of the hospitals where he worked as he groomed his patients in a private office decorated with pictures of his children as he conversed with them about their personal lives. But once he had isolated them after a chaperone or nurse left the treatment room, he fondled and probed them with gloveless fingers and sometimes orally.

The judge noted that many patients were particularly vulnerable because they were pregnant, had physical problems, or had never been to another gynecologist and trusted that Hadden was behaving properly.

Hadden was indicted on state charges in 2014 as women — 19 and counting — kept coming forward. But in 2016, the office of the Manhattan district attorney at the time, Cyrus Vance Jr., allowed Hadden to plead guilty to two low-level felonies and a misdemeanor in a deal that required him to give up his medical license but didn’t require jail time and kept him out of the state’s sex offender registry.

Some of the women who had gone to state prosecutors were outraged, but their stories didn’t start receiving public attention until the #MeToo movement began gaining steam in 2017. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan got a grand jury indictment against Hadden in 2020, charges based on the fact that some patients at his New York offices had come into the city from suburbs in other states.

One of his accusers was Evelyn Yang, whose husband, Andrew Yang, ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for president in 2020 and for New York City mayor in 2022. She said Hadden sexually assaulted her years ago when she was seven months pregnant.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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