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Attorney: More women joining lawsuit against Columbia Univ., doctor accused of sex abuse

Women suing Columbia Univ. & hospitals
Women sue Columbia University, hospitals over sexual abuse allegations 08:34

The attorney for 17 women suing Columbia University and its hospitals, claiming a "massive coverup" of an obstetrician's sexual abuse of patients for more than 20 years, says more women have come forward saying they were assaulted by the doctor.

Attorney Anthony DiPietro said that in the days since CBS News aired an interview with Marissa Hoechstetter, the one woman who chose to reveal her name in the lawsuit, half a dozen more women have approached him with stories of abuse at the hands of former doctor Robert Hadden. Three so far have decided to join the lawsuit, he said.

[Watch the interview with Marissa Hoeschstetter in the video player above.]

Hadden is accused of a lengthy list of sexual abuses dating back to the early 1990s, including licking and digitally penetrating his patients' vaginas without gloves, and fondling the women, many of whom were pregnant or receiving postpartum care.

At least 22 women are already involved in this and other lawsuits related to the case. The women allege the university and hospitals were made aware of the former doctor's behavior but "actively and deliberately — and inexplicably — concealed Robert Hadden's sexual abuse."

DiPietro says one of the newest plaintiffs was a minor when she was in Hadden's care. She is the second woman to say she was abused by Hadden as a teenager.

"The discovery that there was yet another minor that he sexually abused — that changes things," DiPietro said in a phone call with CBS News, adding that the woman's mother had also been a patient of Hadden's.

Her story bears a striking similarity to that of a woman identified in the lawsuit as "Jane Doe #16." In the complaint filed Dec. 4, Jane Doe #16 says Hadden had been her mother's doctor, and was the doctor who delivered her. She then became his patient when she was a high school student. The lawsuit alleges that Hadden at one point directed the teenage girl to undress and "get on all fours" before he groped and digitally penetrated her.

The woman said in the lawsuit that because Hadden was her first gynecologist, she did not know what was considered appropriate for such examinations.

She claims a hospital chaperone witnessed at least some of the assault. In the lawsuit, the women claim a variety of hospital and administrative personnel were aware of abuses by Hadden, who entered a guilty plea in 2016 for charges related to just two of the women.

An attorney for Hadden and representatives of Columbia University and its NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital did not immediately reply to requests for comment. 

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