• Sun. Oct 25th, 2020

NY doctor charged in serial sexual assaults on patients

A former New York gynecologist accused of sexually abusing more than two dozen patients, including children and the wife of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, now faces federal charges

NEW YORK — A former New York gynecologist accused of sexually abusing more than two dozen patients, including children and the wife of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, is now facing federal charges.

The doctor, Robert A. Hadden, who had avoided prison time but surrendered his medical license in an earlier plea deal with state prosecutors, faces six counts of inducing others to travel to engage in illegal sex acts in a newly unsealed federal indictment.

Hadden, 62, was arrested Wednesday morning at his home in Englewood, New Jersey, a community 10 miles outside Manhattan, according to Nicholas Biase, a spokesperson for prosecutors. He is set to appear Wednesday afternoon in Manhattan federal court.

A message seeking comment was left Wednesday with an attorney who has represented Hadden in the past.

The indictment said Hadden had sexually abused dozens of female patients, including multiple minors, “under the guise of conducting purported gynecological and obstetric examinations” at his medical offices and Manhattan hospitals.

The charges alleged the crimes spanned from 1993 through at least 2012 as he used his position as a medical doctor at Columbia University to convince his victims that the “sexual abuse he inflicted on them was appropriate and medically necessary.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said Hadden “acted as a predator in a white coat,” sexually abusing “dozens of women and girls during OBGYN examinations.”

“He used the cover of conducting medical examinations to engage in sexual abuse that he passed off as normal and medically necessary,” Strauss said. “His conduct was neither normal nor medically necessary.”

Hadden has faced a growing chorus of accusers in recent years, including some like Evelyn Yang, the wife of former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who earlier this year told CNN that Hadden assaulted her in 2012, including when she was seven months pregnant.

A lawsuit brought by more than two dozen of accusers says he groped and penetrated patients during vaginal examinations and “mole checks” that served “no medical purpose.”

Hadden also made sexually inappropriate remarks and surreptitiously perform oral sex on patients, the lawsuit says, “to satisfy his own prurient and deviant sexual desires.”

He took pains to ensure his abuse could continue, prosecutors said, and singled out particularly young women, including at least one he delivered when she herself was born. He sometimes used free birth control “to entice his victims to come back at frequent intervals,” Strauss said.

Hadden reached a plea agreement in 2016 with prosecutors in the office of Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, who reopened an investigation into the doctor amid criticism over his handling of a case that included five counts of committing a criminal sexual act.

Evelyn Yang, in the CNN interview, called Hadden’s punishment a “slap on the wrist.”

“What happened to me should have never happened,” she said.

Marissa Hoechstetter, another Hadden accuser, has said Vance’s office misled her about the statute of limitations in Hadden’s case and was already negotiating the plea deal when she was still talking to prosecutors about testifying at a potential trial. The federal indictment Wednesday “only puts into high relief the betrayal I and his other victims experienced by the Manhattan DA,” she said.

“I hope that through the course of this, the world will finally see the full extent of Hadden’s decades of sexual abuse and the institutional cowardice that protected and enabled him for so long,” Hoechstetter said in a statement to The Associated Press. “He and his enablers must be held accountable if we are to make change in a system that harms those it is meant to protect.”

Danny Frost, a spokesman for Vance, said state prosecutors provided “substantial assistance” leading to the indictment. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is still conducting its own “intensely active” investigation into “potential failures by Dr. Hadden’s employer and hospital to disclose additional incidents of abuse to our office and to regulators when required.”

The indictment said Hadden invited his victims to meet with him alone in his office, where he frequently raised “inappropriate and irrelevant sexual topics” by asking “detailed, inappropriate questions about their own sexual activities and sexual partners.”

It said he also offered unsolicited advice to some victims regarding inappropriate subjects such as how to groom their pubic hair and how to masturbate or have orgasms.

The indictment detailed what it described as the abuse of one minor female and five adult women who traveled from out of state to see Hadden. It said Hadden knew the one patient was under the age of 18 in part because he had delivered her at birth.