The law enabled victims of Jeffrey Epstein to sue the behemoth banks JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank, where he kept his money while trafficking them for sex. Both financial institutions settled in recent months for hundreds of millions of dollars.
New York’s political class hasn’t been spared. Former city Comptroller Scott Stringer was sued this past March under the law for making unwanted advances toward a former staffer, allegations he denies. Ibrahim Khan, a former top adviser to state Attorney General Letitia James, was sued in December for sexual harassment allegations he denies.
Marissa Hoechstetter vigorously lobbied New York lawmakers to afford survivors a one-year revival window to bring claims, along with other women who were sexually abused and raped by longtime Columbia University gynecologist Robert Hadden. Hadden was convicted at his federal trial earlier this year and sentenced to 20 years behind bars — facing justice some 30 years after hospital administrators were first notified of his abuse, jurors heard at his trial.
“Columbia made an offer to me the day after it was passed. I didn’t take it,” Hoechstetter said. “These institutions are paying attention — they understood that the power dynamic changed when this was signed into law, and we need to keep putting institutions that protect these people on notice.”
After long refusing to, Columbia University and its medical arm acknowledged Monday it “failed these survivors” and said more than 6,500 former patients would be informed about Hadden’s serial sex abuse, leaving them about a week to pursue claims under the Adult Survivors Act. Hospital officials also announced a $100 million settlement fund.
This year, Columbia and New York-Presbyterian, where Hadden also worked, settled two suits involving more than 200 former patients for $236 million. Last month, 301 former patients filed suit, and more are expected.
More than 160 former patients have similarly brought claims against disgraced urologist Darius Paduch, who was arrested on federal charges in April for systemic sexual abuse, and the hospitals where he committed his alleged crimes, New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell and Northwell Health. Paduch has pleaded not guilty.
As of last Thursday, 1,118 claims had been filed under the Adult Survivors Act by 1,379 plaintiffs in New York’s supreme courts. According to the Office of Court Administration, even more have been brought in the Court of Claims by detainees — with the majority of the 1,469 claims brought by Nov. filed against state prison guards. (There is no centralized data on Adult Survivors Act suits filed in the federal courts.)
In a statement to the New York Daily News, spokesman Thomas Mailey said the state Corrections and Community Supervision Department does not comment on possible or pending litigation. He said the department has “zero tolerance for sexual abuse, sexual harassment and unauthorized relationships” and thoroughly investigates all reports of sexual victimization, last year updating its policies and launching employee training initiatives to mitigate abuse.
Veteran lawyer Michael Lamonsoff, who said his firm is handling a massive chunk of the cases brought by detainees, echoed Crumiller’s feelings, saying the pending deadline was premature. He said his team has literally been working around the clock in the lead-up to the deadline.
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