Doctor who assaulted patients found guilty of federal sex counts
NEW YORK (AP) — A gynecologist accused of assaulting hundreds of patients over a decades-long career was convicted of federal sex crimes on Tuesday in a victory for accusers who were outraged when a first State prosecution resulted in no jail time.
Robert Hadden, 64, of Englewood, New Jersey, was found guilty after less than a day of deliberations in a two-week trial in which nine former patients described how he sexually abused them during exams, when they were most vulnerable.
Outside the courthouse after the verdict, women who were among Hadden’s victims expressed relief at his sentencing and said they were eager to see him begin serving his sentence.
“This is such a win for all of us,” said Evelyn Yang, whose husband, Andrew Yang, unsuccessfully ran as a Democrat for president in 2020 and mayor of New York City in 2022. She said Hadden sexually assaulted her years ago. was seven months pregnant.
“It is also validation. The jury returned their verdict so quickly. And he was found guilty on all counts. This, I think, leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind that he was a serial predator who deserves to be imprisoned,” she said.
Hadden, who is under electronic surveillance and was free on $1 million bond, declined to comment as he left the courthouse.
He may not be free for long. Judge Richard M. Berman denied a request by a prosecutor and 10 victims that Hadden be jailed immediately, but scheduled a hearing next week to further consider the case. Sentencing was set for April 25.
His conviction in federal court on four counts of enticing victims to cross state lines so he could sexually abuse them carries a potential sentence of decades in prison.
That’s a much harsher potential sentence than the one Hadden received when he initially pleaded guilty in state court in 2016 to allegations involving a smaller number of women. His plea deal with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office required him to give up his medical license, but did not require any jail time.
“People are mystified,” Berman said in court, citing Hadden’s success in avoiding jail time. “There’s a feeling that somehow he’s circumventing the process.”
Hadden worked at two prestigious Manhattan hospitals – Columbia University Irving Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital – until complaints about his attacks ended his career a decade ago.
The institutions have already agreed to pay more than $236 million to settle the civil claims of more than 200 former patients.
At trial, Hadden’s attorneys did not dispute that he assaulted patients. They said his plea in state court covered those crimes and that federal charges alleging patients from New Jersey and Nevada crossed state lines to be sexually abused were inappropriate because he did not know where they came from.
After the verdict, Assistant US Attorney Jane Kim argued that Hadden should be jailed immediately because he was a flight risk and a danger to the community.
To bolster the prosecution’s case for immediate detention, eight former patients spoke of the lasting harm the doctor caused them and Kim read statements from two other victims.
One woman said she became a patient of Hadden because she was friends with her niece. She said he would talk about his niece even while he was molesting her.
“This conviction helps a lot,” said another woman who first became a patient in 1993 and went to Hadden for nearly 20 years.
Another woman said she went to see him when she was 21. She said he groomed her for abuse by telling her he would provide free birth control and serve as her dermatologist, insisting she be completely naked for body exams at every appointment .
A woman who spoke at the hearing said it was the first time she had spoken publicly about her abuse. She said Hadden put his fist inside her for no medical purpose two days before she delivered a child.
“The pain that happened that day was more painful than childbirth,” she said. She called him “a sociopath who needs to be behind bars ASAP.”
“Get rid of him now!” asked another former patient.
The last woman to speak said she was a 20-year-old virgin of Orthodox faith when she first visited Hadden. She said Hadden was so pushy on her first date when she was looking for birth control that she bled.
“I didn’t bleed on my wedding night,” she said.
As the women talked, Hadden – wearing a mask to protect against the coronavirus – sat next to his wife and occasionally rubbed her arm. At other times, he fiddled with his hands.
Hadden’s attorney, Deirdre Von Dornum, said he would not run away and had a clean record while out on bail. She said he was also not a danger to the community.
The Associated Press generally withholds the names of sexual abuse victims from stories unless they have decided to tell their stories publicly, which Yang and others have done.
After the verdict, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams released a statement calling Hadden a “predator in a white coat.”
“For years he cruelly lured women who sought professional medical care into his offices in order to satisfy themselves. Hadden’s victims trusted him as a doctor, only to become victims of his heinous predilection,” he said.
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