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Judge says he plans to sentence gynecologist who sexually assaulted patients to 20 years in prison

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge said Monday he plans to sentence a former gynecologist to 20 years in prison for sexually abusing dozens of patients over more than two decades at prestigious New York hospitals.

Judge Richard M. Berman announced his intention at a sentencing hearing for Robert Hadden set to take place Tuesday, when Hadden is expected to speak after some legal issues are resolved. The judge would impose the sentence after the hearing resumes, unless he changes his mind.

Hadden, 64, has been in custody since his sentencing in January on four charges of enticing victims to cross state lines so he could sexually assault them.

A 20-year sentence would be four times the term of approximately four to five years that the judge recommends for sentencing under federal guidelines.

The guidelines are calculated for each case to ensure that people convicted of specific crimes are generally treated equally, and judges can go below or above the guidelines but must explain why.

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The judge said the crimes Hadden committed while working at hospitals, including Columbia University Irving Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, deserved a longer sentence.

Berman said the case was like no other he had seen before and involved “outrageous, horrific, beyond extraordinary, depraved sexual abuse.” He noted that the government has reported that at least 245 women of the thousands he treated claimed they had been abused by Hadden.

The judge’s announcement of his sentencing plans prompted a complaint from attorney Deirdre von Dornum. She said it was too loud.

“Here you have someone who has already lost everything, and you’re basically giving him a life sentence,” Dornum said.

The attorney said her client endured harsh prison conditions at a federal lock-up in Brooklyn, where inmates made threats and blackmailed him into handing over his commissioner money.

Nine victims spoke at the end of last month in the first phase of the sentencing hearing. Several attendees attended Monday’s proceedings but were not invited to speak again.

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At trial, women testified in graphic detail that Hadden repeatedly forced them to submit to sexualized breast exams and touched their vaginas in ways that appeared to be sexual rather than for medical purposes. They urged the judge to give him the maximum prison sentence possible.

In 1987, Hadden began working at New York’s Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, which later became New York-Presbyterian Hospital. The institutions have agreed to pay more than $236 million to settle civil claims from more than 200 former patients.

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