After Arrest, OB-GYN Was Allowed to Keep Working at Columbia

Robert Hadden got 20 years for abusing women, but it's Ivy League's role that's raising eyebrows
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2023 4:20 PM CDT
Columbia Ignored Red Flags on OB-GYN Who Abused Women
Stock photo of a building on Columbia's campus.   (Getty Images/peterspiro)

In July, OB-GYN Robert Hadden was sentenced to 20 years behind bars after being convicted of federal sexual abuse charges, with hundreds of victims reportedly left in his wake. A disturbing new deep dive from ProPublica, however, reveals that the prison sentence came despite, not thanks to, Hadden's employer for decades: Columbia University, which was "deeply involved in containing, deflecting, and distancing itself from the scandal at every step." Perhaps most shockingly, Hadden's higher-ups appear to have been warned on multiple occasions about his crimes from some of his victims—yet the doctor was allowed to continue practicing at the university, and assaulting more women.

Laurie Kanyok, a pregnant dancer who went to see Hadden in June 2012, was assaulted during her appointment, and her boyfriend called 911 immediately once she told him what had happened. Hadden was arrested—but released the same day, and back at work the next Tuesday, with the OK from Columbia to keep treating patients, as long as he was chaperoned. The college suspended him five weeks after that, then declined to renew his appointment later that year. Eight patients say he assaulted them during the five weeks between his arrest and suspension.

Meanwhile, ProPublica notes Columbia "worked to tamp down the crisis" as more victims came forward, including by not telling patients what had happened and failing to hand over evidence to police. The story notes that more than 245 patients in all have reported being abused by Hadden, "but the total number of victims may be far higher. ... Tens of thousands came under his care. A baby girl he delivered grew up to be a teenager he allegedly assaulted." Hadden was indicted in 2020, and Columbia has agreed to pay nearly $240 million to settle suits from his victims, but the college isn't admitting fault. "How can you trust an institution anymore?" a former Hadden patient asks. "The only reason I went there was because it was Columbia." Much more here. (Or read more longforms here.)

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