Jury selection began Wednesday in the federal trial of a former Columbia University gynecologist accused of sexually abusing patients, including a minor and two who were pregnant.

The former doctor, Robert Hadden, was indicted in September 2020 on six counts related to cases in which patients traveled between states for their appointments with him and allegedly were sexually abused. Two more charges were later added, but prosecutors alleged in the 2020 indictment that Hadden also assaulted “dozens of female patients, including multiple minors” between 1993 and 2012.

Federal prosecutors filed charges related only to those who lived outside New York and traveled across state lines for appointments during which the alleged abuse occurred.

Dr. Robert Hadden appears in Manhattan Supreme Court on Thursday, November 6, 2014.

Jefferson Siegel/NY Daily News via Getty Images

Hadden previously entered a guilty plea in 2016 to two New York State charges of criminal sex act in the third degree and forcible touching. More than 200 of his former patients have settled lawsuits against Columbia University, reaching agreements totalling more than $230 million — and the accusations against him were  central to a campaign for the New York Adult Survivors Act, which in November opened a one-year window for survivors of sexual abuse to file lawsuits that would otherwise be barred by statutes of limitations.

He has denied all allegations and charges beyond the two for which he entered the 2016 guilty plea. That deal included no jail time and allowed Hadden to be classified as the lowest level of sex-offender status — meaning he is not listed in New York State’s online sex offender registry.

Each of the federal charges faced by the 64-year-old Hadden carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

On Wednesday, prosecutors and defense attorneys began whittling down a pool of 100 prospective jurors, calling them one by one to a back room behind the court — where, according to a Tuesday evening court filing, they were likely to face questions about whether they had ever experienced sexual abuse or followed media coverage related to Hadden. 

Judge Richard Berman said in court Wednesday that he also wanted to know if they were familiar with Columbia University — a sprawling institution nearly as old as the city itself.

The university has previously called Hadden’s behavior “abhorrent” and in October said it has adopted policies to ensure patients “are protected and empowered while in our care.” 

“We deeply regret the pain that Robert Hadden’s patients suffered and hope that these resolutions will provide some measure of support for the women he hurt,” the university said at the time. “All those who came forward should be commended.”

Opening statements in the trial begin Monday.