Elected officials gathered at Columbia University on Tuesday to demand an investigation into the university’s handling of a former gynecologist who was convicted of sexually assaulting hundreds of patients. The officials, joined by dozens of sexual abuse survivors, marched onto the campus to deliver their message. Assembly member Grace Lee presented a letter signed by 36 elected officials, urging the university to launch an investigation into how Robert Hadden, the former gynecologist, was able to abuse patients for over 25 years.
Hadden surrendered his medical license in 2016 and received a plea deal that spared him prison time at the state level. However, in July of this year, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a judge. Survivors claim that Columbia University never informed patients about Hadden’s loss of medical license and history of abuse dating back to the late 1980s.
The demonstrators emphasized the urgency of their calls, as the clock is ticking on the Adult Survivors Act. This act provides a one-year look-back window, open until November 23, for individuals to bring civil litigation against individuals or institutions that enabled sexual assaults.
Advocates plan to continue applying pressure for the next 30 days to ensure that all potential victims have a chance for justice before the November 23 deadline. Last year, the university agreed to a $165 million settlement with 147 former patients of Hadden, and this month, 300 additional women have filed a lawsuit against Columbia.