Survivors of former OBGYN demand internal investigation and accountability for sex abuse cover-up

Sonia Rincón Image
Tuesday, October 24, 2023
Protest calls on Columbia to open investigation into OBGYN cover-up
Sonia Rincon reports on the rally outside the campus of Columbia University on Tuesday.

MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS, Manhattan (WABC) -- A huge rally was held outside the campus of Columbia University on Tuesday as students, faculty, staff and survivors of the sexual abuse of a former OBGYN called on the school to investigate the cover-up of his crimes.

Robert Hadden, now considered the most prolific sex offender in the country, had several thousand patients -- none of whom were ever notified by the University of the crimes.

Five hundred have come forward as victims, but it's unknown how many more are out there.

Tuesday saw a very dramatic appeal from survivors of the former gynecologist who sexually abused dozens of vulnerable and trusting patients for over two decades at prestigious New York hospitals.

Hadden was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for his crimes this summer.

The sentence for Hadden came nearly a month after a federal judge heard nine victims describe how the doctor abused them during gynecology treatments from the late 1980s until 2012 at prominent hospitals, including New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

The survivors of the former OBGYN marched to the office of Columbia University's president Tuesday morning and hand delivered a letter, which demanded an internal investigation and accountability for those who they say enabled and covered up Hadden's abuse.

This was something they had been demanding for years, but now there is more urgency because the clock will run out next month on the time constraints of the New York Adult Survivors Act, which gives adults a one-year window to file a claim.

"After 30 years of Columbia protecting this sexual predator, we are now 30 days out of the expiration of the Adult Survivors Act," said Evelyn Yang, one of the survivors.

"He was arrested and then allowed to see more patients, which resulted in Evelyn's assault and many others," said Laurie Kanyok, also one of the survivors. "The shocking part was and is that it took 11 years to get this predator behind bars."

Survivors like Evelyn Yang, Laurie Kanyok, and hundreds more who have come forward, say Columbia has never responded to their demands to investigate how Hadden got away with it for so long.

A representative at University President Minouche Shafik's office accepted the letter, which was signed by elected representatives, who promised to follow up, and asked if Shafik wants this to be part of her legacy.

"To date, not a single employee at Columbia has faced consequences for covering up Hadden's crimes," said NYS Assembly Member Grace Lee. "As a Columbia graduate, I feel profoundly disappointed by the failures of our university."

The survivors of Hadden's abuse and state elected representatives say more individuals must be held accountable now that it's become very clear that Columbia and New York Presbyterian health network allowed the former doctor to keep seeing patients even after one of them called 911 and had him arrested when she was sexually assaulted in his exam room.

Under the Adult Survivors Act, any patients who have not yet come forward against Hadden or would like to hold other individuals accountable in this case, need to do so by November 23rd.

The survivors and elected officials say for there to be justice in this case, the university still needs to notify all of the patients and name the other individuals who may have allowed this to happen.

Eyewitness News reached out to Columbia University, which said it has no comment on the matter.


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