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Columbia University said this week it will set up a $100 million fund for patients abused by former gynecologist Robert Hadden — which victims and their advocates slammed as “pathetically low” and “woefully inadequate” given the depraved doctor’s potential number of victims.
The Ivy League school and Columbia University Irving Medical Center announced Monday they will notify Hadden’s nearly 6,500 former patients about his sex-trafficking conviction and sentencing in July to 20 years in prison.
As part of its reckoning, the university said it would also be enlisting a neutral investigator to probe how Hadden’s abuse was allowed to occur unchecked for nearly two decades.
Beginning in January, victims will be able to apply for settlement payouts from the fund, which will be decided by a neutral administrator.
Anthony T. DiPietro — a lawyer representing 628 Hadden accusers — said the proposal announced by Columbia President Minouche Shafik was “woefully inadequate.”
If 6,500 patients were granted settlement funds, they would be walking away with a paltry $15,000 each, noted DiPietro — who over roughly a decade said he had settled 231 Hadden cases for an average of $1.2 million.
“Columbia University’s exposure in these cases is well in excess of $1 billion and for them to come out with a statement, creating a $100 million fund to cover 6,500 patients is frankly offensive,” he told The Post on Tuesday.
“Columbia has covered up Robert Hadden’s abuse for the past 36 years,” DiPietro claimed. “They cannot be trusted they have done nothing but lie to patients, expose patients to a known predator and hide Hadden’s sexual abuse from law enforcement and the public.”
The university has settled more than 250 claims for $230 million and it still has hundred of suits against it pending in court over Hadden’s alleged abuse.
But victims opting to sue rather than attempt to settle via the new university fund have only until Nov. 23 to take advantage of New York Adult Survivors Act if their claims fall outside of the statute of limitations.
“It’s sad to me and quite telling and pathetic on Columbia’s part that they are doing it now, just 10 days before the Adult Survivors Act window closes and $100 million is pathetically low given his potential number of victims,” said Marissa Hoechstetter, 44, one of DiPietro’s clients and the first person to come forward about Hadden’s abuse.
While Columbia’s announcement “is a win” for other victims who will now know they were not alone, Hoechstetter told The Post the university’s plan is the “bare minimum.”
“I don’t want to downplay it. I think it is a victory and it’s important,” said Hoechstetter — who was abused by Hadden in 2012 during a visit following the birth of her twins and also during other prior appointments with the since-disgraced doctor.
DiPietro and Hoechstetter say they have been advocating government agencies and the hospital to notify all of Hadden’s patients of his abuse for over a decade.
“Columbia’s actions are obvious,” DiPietro said.
“It’s not a coincidence that after 10 or 11 years of litigation, all the civil cases we have filed … that now, finally 10 days before the window of the Adult Survivors Act closes they announced that they are sending out the notice,” the attorney said. “They haven’t even sent it out yet.”
“The only thing that Columbia cares about is their money and their $12 billion endowment,” the lawyer said.
Still, a university spokesperson pointed out that while the ASA window is closing later this month, the university fund will remain open for at least one year after it opens in January.
As part of the announcement, President Shafik admitted that the university had “failed these survivors” and said they are “deeply sorry.”
“We owe it to the courageous survivors and the entire Columbia community to fully reckon with
Hadden’s abuses,” she said.
The university has set up new patient safety policies and programs and will work with outside experts to carry out transparent monitoring of patient safety.
Hadden, 64, was convicted in January following a Manhattan federal court trial on all four counts of enticing women to travel across state lines so he could abuse them.
He said he was “very sorry” for his abuse and cried when a judge handed down his sentence.
Hadden — who also worked at New York-Presbyterian Hospital — started in his profession in 1987 and continued until 2012 when he was exposed.