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 at prestigious New York hospitals over two decades.
Judge Richard M. Berman announced his intention at Robert Hayden’s sentencing hearing, which will continue Tuesday, when Hayden is expected to speak after certain legal issues are resolved. The judge was expected to pass sentence after the hearing resumed, unless he changed his mind.
Hayden, 64, has since been in custody january punishment in four cases of luring the victims to cross the state border so that he could sexually exploit them.
The 20-year sentence would be roughly four times the four- to five-year term that the judge concluded federal sentencing guidelines recommended.
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 they must explain why.
The judge said Hayden deserves a longer sentence for the crime he committed while working at hospitals including Columbia University Irving Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
Berman said the case was like nothing he had ever seen before and involved “abusive, horrific, beyond extraordinary, despicable sexual abuse”. He said the government has reported that at least 245 of the thousands of women he has treated have claimed they were abused by Hayden.
Defense attorney Deirdre von Dornum filed a complaint after the judge announced his sentencing plan. He said it was too harsh.
Dornum said, “Here you have someone who has already lost everything, and you are effectively giving him a life sentence.”
The attorney said his client was enduring harsh prison conditions at a federal lockup in Brooklyn, where inmates used threats and extortion to return his commission money.
nine victims speak out In the first phase of the sentencing hearing late last month. Several attended the proceedings on Monday but were not invited to speak again.
During the trial, the women testified in graphic detail that Hayden repeatedly forced them to perform sexual breast exams and touched their vaginas in ways that appeared to have a sexual rather than medical purpose. He urged the judge to give him the maximum prison sentence possible.
In 1987, Hayden began working at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, which later became New York-Presbyterian Hospital. The institutes have agreed to pay more than $236 million to settle civil claims from more than 200 former patients.