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New York gynecologist indicted on federal charges of sexually assaulting patients

Audrey Strauss, acting United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, arrives Wednesday for a news conference to announce the unsealing of an indictment against Robert Hadden. (John Minchillo/AP)
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The gynecologist accused of sexual assault by the wife of former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang was indicted on federal charges for the sexual abuse of six women over nearly two decades, according to federal prosecutors.

Former Manhattan doctor Robert A. Hadden is charged with six counts of enticing women to engage in illegal sex acts, Audrey Strauss, the acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced Wednesday at a joint news conference with FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr.

Hadden, 62, was arrested by federal authorities at 6 a.m. in New Jersey, Strauss said.

Prosecutors allege that Hadden sexually assaulted dozens of women who were his patients at his OB/GYN practice from 1993 to 2012 “under the guise of purported medical examinations,” Strauss said.

“Hadden acted as a predator in a white coat,” Strauss said.

At least one of the victims listed in the indictment, whom Hadden had delivered himself, was underage during the alleged assault, Strauss said. It was not immediately clear why federal prosecutors listed six of the growing number of women who have accused Hadden, and the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment further.

Hadden targeted unwitting women, according to Strauss, including many victims who saw Hadden as their first gynecologist.

“Many of Hadden’s victims did not know what to expect during an OB/GYN examination and were less likely to challenge Hadden when he engaged in sexually abusive behavior,” she said. “As a result, some of his victims immediately identified Hadden’s conduct as abusive but many didn’t know that his examinations were inappropriate, and so [they] returned to see him for years.”

Evelyn Yang, Andrew Yang’s wife, says she was sexually assaulted by her OB/GYN while pregnant

The new charges each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. At a bond hearing later Wednesday, Hadden’s lawyer, Isabelle Kirshner, argued before Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger that Hadden should be released from detention because he is caring for ill family members including his son with mental disabilities. Lehrburger agreed to his release on a $1 million bond and pre-trial restrictions on where Hadden is allowed to go.

Kirshner declined to comment to The Post about the allegations presented at the news briefing Wednesday, saying she is representing him only for the arraignment thus far.

Alleged victims also spoke during the bond hearing, including three who shared statements with Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey under the pseudonym Jane Doe. Citing the precedent of the case of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, Comey argued that the anonymous women could also be able to give their side to the court.

“I don’t think [Hadden] deserves any opportunity to prevent justice,” one woman said in a statement. “The court needs to ensure he has no chance to leave or hurt himself.”

Hadden previously pleaded guilty in 2016 and was given a deal by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., which has been criticized as lax for the allegations levied. Hadden was forced to give up his medical license and register as a Level 1 sex offender but did not serve time in prison.

Strauss declined to comment on the 2016 deal. Vance’s office told The Washington Post it was involved in the federal investigation.

“Our office provided substantial assistance leading to today’s indictment, and our continuing investigation — which examines potential failures by Dr. Hadden's employer and hospital to disclose additional incidents of abuse to our office and to regulators when required — is intensely active and ongoing,” Vance’s spokesman Danny Frost wrote in an email.

Anthony T. DiPietro, an attorney who represents more than 100 women accusing Hadden of assault, said he was thankful for the renewed effort to prosecute Hadden after the case languished for years.

“In some ways, this has been a long time coming, but in others, maybe things are just getting started,” DiPietro said in an interview. “We’re just grateful that prosecutors at the SDNY are taking a close look at this.”

On behalf of the victims, DiPietro is also suing Columbia University, accusing the administration of knowingly allowing the abuses to continue unfettered for decades.

“To me, what happened was, Hadden was allowed to negotiate something that closely resembled an early retirement than a criminal sentence for a sexual felony,” DiPietro said of Hadden’s earlier plea deal.

In an emotional interview with CNN, Evelyn Yang called the punishment a “slap on the wrist.” Yang said she was seven months pregnant when Hadden assaulted her at the end of a routine appointment.

“I just kind of froze, like a deer in headlights. Just frozen,” she told CNN in January. “ … I remember trying to fix my eyes on a spot on the wall and just trying to avoid seeing his face as he was assaulting me. Just waiting for it to be over.”

Marissa Hoechstetter, another Hadden accuser, called the indictment an example of “the collective power of survivors’ voices.”

Hoechstetter echoed Yang’s frustrations with the plea deal, saying the federal case offers the victims a second chance at justice.

“At a time when the world is focused on criminal justice reforms and the power of district attorneys, the Hadden story is a shining example of our flawed two-tiered system of justice,” she wrote in an emailed statement. “I hope that today’s revelation offers hope and encouragement to any of Hadden’s other former patients who wish to come forward.”

Shayna Jacobs and Allyson Chiu contributed to this report.

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