A doctor who molested patients convicted of federal sex offenses

NEW YORK (AP) — A gynecologist accused of molesting 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 did not lead to prison terms.

Robert Hadden, 64, of Englewood, New Jersey, was sentenced after less than a day of deliberation in a two-week trial in which nine former patients described how he sexually assaulted them during examinations when they were at their most vulnerable.

Outside the courthouse after the sentencing, women who were among Hadden’s victims expressed relief at his conviction and said they desperately wanted him to start serving time.

“This is such a win for all of us,” said Evelyn Young, whose husband, Andrew Young, ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020 and for mayor of New York in 2022. She said Hadden sexually assaulted her years ago when she was seven months pregnant.

“It also confirms it. The jury came back with their verdict so quickly. And he was found guilty on all counts. It just, I think, leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind that he was a serial predator who deserves to be incarcerated,” she said.

Hadden, who is on electronic monitoring and has been released on $1 million bail, declined to comment as he left the courthouse.

He may not be free for long. Judge Richard M. Berman rejected a request by prosecutors and the 10 victims to immediately send Haden to prison, but scheduled a hearing next week to consider the matter further. The verdict is scheduled for April 25.

His conviction in federal court on four counts of inducing victims to cross state lines so he could sexually assault them carries a potential sentence of decades in prison.

That’s a much harsher potential sentence than Haden received when he originally pleaded guilty in state court in 2016 to charges involving fewer women. His plea agreement with Manhattan prosecutors called for a relinquishment of his medical license but no jail time.

“People are confused,” Berman said in court, referring to Hadden’s escape from prison. “There is a sense that he is somehow circumventing the process.”

Hadden worked at two prestigious Manhattan hospitals — Columbia University Irving Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital — until complaints about his assault ended his career a decade ago.

The facilities have already agreed to pay more than $236 million to settle civil lawsuits by more than 200 former patients.

At trial, Hadden’s attorneys did not dispute that he molested patients. They said his plea in state court covered those crimes and that federal charges that patients from New Jersey and Nevada crossed the state line to sexually assault him were moot because he didn’t know where they came from.

After the sentencing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane Kim argued that Hadden should be jailed immediately because he is a flight risk and a danger to the community.

To support the prosecution’s case for the immediate detention, eight former patients spoke of the lasting harm the doctor had inflicted on them, and Kim read testimony from two more victims.

One woman said she became Hadden’s patient because she was friends with his niece. She said he would talk about his niece even though he was harassing her.

“That belief helps a lot,” said another woman who first became a patient in 1993 and has been going to Hadden for nearly 20 years.

Another woman said she went to see him when she was 21. She said he prepared her for abuse by telling her he would provide free birth control and serve as her dermatologist, insisting she be completely naked for a full-body exam at every appointment.

One woman who spoke at the hearing said it was the first time she had spoken publicly about her abuse. She said that two days before she gave birth, Hadden had punched her for no medical purpose.

“The pain that happened that day was more painful than childbirth,” she said. She called him “a sociopath who needs to be behind bars as soon as possible.”

“Get rid of him now!” another former patient demanded.

The last woman to come forward said she was a 20-year-old virgin and Orthodox when she first came to Hadden. She said Hadden was so invasive at her first appointment when she was looking for birth control that she bled.

“I didn’t bleed on my wedding night,” she said.

As the women talked, Haden – wearing a mask to protect against the coronavirus – sat next to his wife and occasionally rubbed her hand. Other times he was fidgeting with his hands.

Hadden’s lawyer, Deirdre von Dornum, said he would not abscond and had an excellent record while on bail. She said he is also not a danger to the community.

The Associated Press typically does not name sexual assault victims in stories unless they choose to tell their stories publicly, which Yang and others have done.

Following the sentencing, US Attorney Damian Williams issued a statement calling Hadden “a predator in a white coat.”

“For years, he brutally lured women seeking professional medical care into his office to pleasure himself. Hadden’s victims trusted him as a healer, but instead fell victim to his disgusting addiction,” he said.

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