NEW YORK (AP) — A gynecologist accused of sexually abusing hundreds of patients over a decades-long career was convicted Tuesday on federal sex crime charges in a victory for prosecutors who were outraged when an initial state prosecution failed to end in jail. .
Robert Hadden, 64, of Englewood, New Jersey, was convicted 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, the women who were among Hadden’s victims expressed relief at his sentence and said they were looking forward to seeing him start serving time.
“This is a huge victory for all of us,” said Evelyn Yang, whose husband, Andrew Yang, ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for president in 2020 and for New York City mayor in 2022. She said Hadden sexually assaulted her a few years ago. years when she was seven months pregnant.
“It is also to validate. The jury returned with their verdict so quickly. And he was found guilty of all charges. That, I think, leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind that he was a serial predator who deserves to be jailed,” he said.
Hadden, who is subject to electronic monitoring and was free on $1 million bail, declined to comment as he left court.
It may not be free for long. Judge Richard M. Berman rejected a request by a prosecutor and 10 victims that Hadden be jailed immediately, but set a hearing for next week to further consider the matter. 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 potentially much harsher punishment than Hadden received when she initially pleaded guilty in state court in 2016 to charges involving a smaller number of women. Her plea agreement with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office required her to turn over her medical license, but she did not require any jail time.
“People are baffled,” Berman said in court, citing Hadden’s success in avoiding jail time. “There is a feeling that in one way or another he evades the process.”
Hadden worked at two prestigious Manhattan hospitals, Columbia University Irving Medical Center and New York Presbyterian Hospital, until complaints about his attacks shut down his career a decade ago.
The institutions have already agreed to pay more than $236 million to resolve civil lawsuits by more than 200 former patients.
At trial, Hadden’s lawyers did not deny that he abused patients. They said her guilty plea in state court covered those crimes and that federal charges alleging patients from New Jersey and Nevada crossed state lines to be sexually assaulted were inappropriate because he didn’t know where they came from.
After the verdict, Assistant US Attorney Jane Kim argued that Hadden should be jailed immediately as a flight risk and a danger to the community.
To support the prosecution’s argument for immediate arrest, eight former patients spoke of the lasting harm the doctor caused them, and Kim read statements from two more victims.
One woman said she became Hadden’s patient because she was a friend of his niece. She said that he would talk about her niece even while he was abusing her.
“This conviction helps a lot,” said another woman who first became a patient in 1993 and attended Hadden for nearly 20 years.
Another woman said she went to see him when she was 21 years old. She said that he prepared her for the abuse from her by telling her that she would provide him with free birth control and that she would be her dermatologist, insisting that she be completely nude for full-body checks 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 her fist inside her for no medical purpose two days before she gave birth.
“The pain that she went through 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!» demanded another former patient.
The last woman to speak said she was a 20-year-old virgin and of the Orthodox religious faith when she first went to Hadden. She said Hadden was so intrusive on her first date when she was reaching 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 would play with his hands.
Hadden’s attorney, Deirdre Von Dornum, said he would not run and that he had a perfect record while on bail. She said he wasn’t a danger to the community either.
The Associated Press generally withholds the names of sexual assault victims from stories unless they have chosen to go public with their stories, which Yang and others have done.
Following the verdict, US Attorney Damian Williams issued a statement calling Hadden «a predator in a white coat.»
“For years, he cruelly lured women seeking professional medical care into his offices to gratify himself. Hadden’s victims trusted him as a doctor, only to become victims of his egregious predilection,” she said.