NEW YORK (TSTIME) — A gynecologist accused of molesting hundreds of patients over a decades-long career was convicted Tuesday of federal sex crimes charges.
Robert Hadden, 64, of Englewood, New Jersey, was convicted after less than a day of deliberation during a two-week trial in which nine former patients described how he sexually assaulted them during examinations, when they were most vulnerable.
Outside the courthouse, women who were among Hadden’s victims expressed relief at his conviction after the verdict and said they would like him to serve his sentence.
“This is such a win for all of us,” said Evelyn Yang, whose husband, Andrew Yang, ran unsuccessfully for New York City presidency in 2020 and New York City mayor in 2022. She said that Hadden had sexually assaulted her years ago when she was seven months pregnant.
“It’s also validating. The jury came back with their verdict so quickly. And he was found guilty on all counts. I don’t think that leaves anyone in doubt that he was a serial predator who deserves to be locked up,” she said.
Hadden, who is under electronic surveillance and free on $1 million bail, declined to comment as he left the courthouse.
He may not be free for long. Judge Richard M. Berman denied a request from a prosecutor and 10 victims to immediately jail Hadden, but will hold a hearing next week to further consider the case. The verdict has been set for April 25.
His conviction in federal court on four counts of enticing victims to cross state lines so he could sexually assault them could lead to decades in prison.
That’s a much harsher possible sentence than Hadden received when he first pleaded guilty in state court in 2016 to charges involving a smaller number of women. His plea deal with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office required him to surrender his medical license, but it did not require jail time.
“People are baffled,” Berman said in court, citing Hadden’s success in avoiding jail. “There’s a sense that he’s 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 seizures ended his career a decade ago.
The institutions have already agreed to pay more than $236 million to settle civil claims from more than 200 former patients.
At trial, Hadden’s lawyers did not dispute that he harassed patients. They said his plea in state court related to those crimes and that the federal charge that patients from New Jersey and Nevada crossed state lines to be sexually assaulted was inappropriate because he did not know where they came from.
Following the verdict, assistant attorney Jane Kim argued that Hadden should be jailed immediately as a runaway risk and a danger to the community.
To support the prosecution’s argument for immediate detention, eight former patients spoke of the lasting harm the doctor had inflicted on them and Kim read statements from two more victims.
One woman said she became a Hadden patient because she was friends with his niece. She said he would talk about his niece even if he was bothering her.
“This belief helps tremendously,” 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 years old. 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 at every appointment for full-body checkups.
A 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 to a child, Hadden thrust his fist into her without medical intent.
“The pain that happened that day was more painful than giving birth,” she said. She called him a “sociopath who needs to go behind bars as soon as possible.”
“Keep your hands off him now!” asked another former patient.
The last woman to speak said she was a 20-year-old virgin and of orthodox religious faith when she first went 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.
While the women spoke, Hadden – wearing a mask to protect against the coronavirus – sat next to his wife and occasionally rubbed her arm. At other times he fidgeted with his hands.
Hadden’s attorney, Deirdre Von Dornum, said he would not run and had a perfect record while out on bail. She said he also posed no danger to the community.
The The Singapore Time generally withholds the names of sexual abuse victims from stories unless they’ve decided to tell their stories publicly, which Yang and others have done.
Following the verdict, U.S. 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 office to satisfy themselves. Hadden’s victims trusted him as a doctor, but instead fell victim to his hideous predilection,” he said.