Robert Hadden, former Columbia University gynecologist accused of sexually assaulting patients, convicted of sex trafficking

A gynecologist who abused patients during a decades-long career was found guilty on federal sex trafficking charges Tuesday after nine former patients told a New York jury how the doctor they once trusted sexually assaulted them when they were most vulnerable.

A Manhattan federal court jury returned its verdict after deliberating less than a day in the case against robert hadden64, who 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.

More than 200 of his former patients have settled lawsuits against Columbia University, reaching settlements totaling more than $230 million, and the accusations against him were instrumental in a campaign for New York’s Adult Survivors Law, which in November opened a one-year window for survivors of sexual assault to file lawsuits that would otherwise be barred by the statute of limitations.

Hadden’s lawyers admitted their client had sexually abused patients, but said his guilty plea to the charges in state court seven years ago put those crimes behind him.

Dr. Robert Hadden is charged

Prosecutors said the federal charges were appropriate because Hadden, of Englewood, New Jersey, enticed the women across state lines so he could attack them.

Defense attorneys argued that he was unaware that the patients came from other states, including New Jersey and Nevada.

After the verdict, US Attorney Damian Williams issued a statement in which he called 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.

The verdict capped a two-week trial that featured a procession of former patients who described how the doctor questioned them about their personal lives, including their sexual experience, before inappropriately touching their breasts or between their legs.

One indictment accused Hadden of sexually abusing patients from 1993 to at least 2012, though a prosecutor noted during closing argument Monday that a nurse testified that he abused patients in the late 1980s.

“He put on his white coat and took the oath that all doctors take to ‘do no harm,’ and then he did the exact opposite,” Assistant US Attorney Jane Kim told the jury.

She said she tried to “hide behind her white coat” and the prestige of Columbia University while winning over vulnerable patients before sexually abusing them.

In closing, defense attorney Kathryn Wozencroft said what some of Hadden’s patients endured at their hands was “disgusting and horrific,” but that their state court convictions covered those crimes.

She argued that the federal charges were inappropriate because they required Hadden to lure his victims across state lines when he did not know in advance which patients he would treat each day and where they came from.

Among the former patients who spoke out publicly was Evelyn Yang, whose husband, Andrew Yang, ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for president in 2020 and for mayor of New York City in 2022.

In 2020, she said Hadden sexually assaulted her eight years earlier, including when she was seven months pregnant. She called the ruling in the state case a “slap on the wrist.”

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.

Columbia University previously called Hadden’s behavior “abhorrent” and in October said it adopted policies to ensure patients “are protected and empowered while in our care.”

“We are deeply sorry for the pain suffered by Robert Hadden’s patients and hope these resolutions provide some support for the women he hurt,” the university said at the time. “Everyone who came forward should be commended.”

Graham Kates contributed to this report.

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