One of the female patients who accused Columbia University gynecologist Robert Hadden of sexual abuse disputed claims from the Manhattan’s District Attorney that his office made a “mistake” when they tried to help Jeffrey Epstein reduce his sex offender registration status in 2011.
As reported before by Law&Crime, Manhattan DA Cy Vance previously admitted that Assistant Manhattan DA Jennifer Gaffney made a “mistake” in asking a judge to reduce Epstein’s sex offender status to the lowest possible classification level, a move that would have prevented his name from appearing on the online sex offender database.
Justice Ruth Pickholz denied the 2011 request to lower Epstein’s sex offender status from “3” to “1,” and expressed bewilderment as to why Gaffney would support such a change for a man accused of sexually abusing dozens of minor girls.
“I have to tell you; I am a little overwhelmed because I have never seen the prosecutor’s office do anything like this. I have never seen it,” Pickholz said during the hearing.
Vance later said that his office had “misinterpreted the law,” and claimed he was unaware of the situation until well after it happened.
Marissa Hoechstetter, one of 19 women who claimed Hadden abused them on his examination table, said she does not believe Vance’s explanation because she and Hadden’s other victims were treated in a disturbingly similar fashion.
Hadden had been credibly accused of subjecting his patients to, among other things, licking their vaginas, squeezing milk from their breasts, and groping. But in 2016, a team of prosecutors, which included Gaffney, consented to Hadden pleading guilty to much lesser offenses and registering as a level 1 sex offender without having to serve any jail time.
In an interview with The New York Daily News on Tuesday, Hoechstetter said she does not believe Vance’s claim that helping Epstein was a mistake; rather, she contends that it exemplifies a pattern of powerful men getting a slap on the wrist for abusing women.
“What happened to us is proof that they not only knew what they were doing but that they approved that behavior,” said, adding, “It’s not a mistake. It’s an MO.”
Hoechstetter also saw parallels in the way Epstein’s victims were kept out of the loop regarding prosecutors’ plea negotiations with the accused abuser. A federal judge ruled in February that the office of former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Alexander Acosta had violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act by failing to notify Epstein’s accusers of his extraordinary 2008 non-prosecution agreement.
Hadden’s accusers similarly told the Daily News in 2017 that prosecutors had not informed them about their deal with the disgraced gynecologist, which allowed him to plead guilty to one felony count of a criminal sex act with a minor and one count of forcible touching, a misdemeanor.
Vance’s office has defended Hadden’s plea deal, reasoning that a conviction at trial was not guaranteed.
[image via via Mario Tama/Getty Images]