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Manhattan D.A. investigating new allegations against Dr. Robert Hadden after Evelyn Yang interview

New sexual assault claims against Robert Hadden
Manhattan D.A. investigating new sexual assault claims against Robert Hadden 04:42

The Manhattan District Attorney's office has assigned prosecutors to investigate new allegations against a former Columbia University obstetrician accused of sexual assault by Evelyn Yang and dozens of other women.

Yang said in a January 16 interview with CNN that Robert Hadden sexually assaulted her in a Columbia University-affiliated exam room in 2012, during an appointment for her pregnancy. Yang, whose husband Andrew was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination at the time of her interview, put a renewed spotlight on a years-old criminal case that has been the subject of controversy for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and Columbia University.

Following Evelyn Yang's interview, about 40 women have come forward with allegations against Hadden, according to Anthony T. DiPietro, the lead attorney in a 2018 lawsuit against Hadden and Columbia University. The lawsuit initially had 17 plaintiffs and DiPietro expects that number to reach at least 70. 

The D.A.'s office now says it intends to investigate the new allegations. 

"District Attorney Vance has assigned incoming Sex Crimes Unit Chief Coleen Balbert and senior prosecutor Mimi Mairs to lead the investigation of any new claims, and our prosecutors are in touch with a representative of a number of survivors," Danny Frost, director of communications for Vance's office, said in an email to CBS News on Thursday.

"We admire the courage of the survivors who have recently shared their stories. Their voices will be heard and the abuse they suffered will be thoroughly investigated," Frost said. 

He also said, "we strongly encourage all survivors of Robert Hadden's predatory conduct to call us at 212-335-9373." 

Women sue Columbia University, hospitals over sexual abuse allegations 08:34

An attorney for Hadden could not be reached Thursday. 

Hadden was charged in 2014 on allegations of sexual assault involving six women. In 2016, he agreed to plead guilty to two individual counts of a criminal sex act in the third degree and forcible touching. The plea deal downgraded his sex-offender status to the lowest level — meaning he is not listed in New York State's online sex offender registry. 

Hadden did not serve a day in jail or prison. In exchange for entering a guilty plea and forfeiting his medical license, prosecutors dropped all other charges and agreed in the plea deal not to pursue cases related to other alleged victims "known to the District Attorney's Office as of on or before February 22, 2016." 

Seventeen women sued Hadden and Columbia University in December 2018. The day after the suit was filed, CBS News aired an interview with Marissa Hoechstetter, the only woman in the lawsuit against Hadden and Columbia who chose not to be anonymous.

In the following months, at least a dozen additional patients came forward with allegations against Hadden. 

Hoechstetter, who on January 23 led a protest outside New York City Hall calling for Vance's resignation, said Thursday she is glad the new allegations are being investigated, but reiterated her criticisms of the original prosecution.

"I don't think this negates or changes any of the things they've done in the past. It will not change the ridiculous plea deal they made that excluded me and an untold number of other women from being involved in the original criminal proceedings," Hoechstetter said. "I don't trust them to do what they should do. They've had evidence, they've had plenty of opportunity, and they're stepping on board now because of incredible pressure."

In January, Vance defended the plea deal in a statement to CBS News.

"Because a conviction is never a guaranteed outcome in a criminal trial, our primary concern was holding him accountable and making sure he could never do this again – which is why we insisted on a felony conviction and permanent surrender of his medical license. While we stand by our legal analysis and resulting disposition of this difficult case, we regret that this resolution has caused survivors pain," Vance said.

Columbia University apologized to Hadden's victims in a statement sent to CBS News on Monday, but did not discuss the lawsuit.

"Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our patients. We are committed to treating every patient with respect and delivering care to the highest professional standards. We condemn sexual misconduct in any form and extend our deepest apologies to the women whose trust Robert Hadden violated and to their families," the university said.  

Allegations in the 2018 lawsuit date back to the early 1990s. Most of the plaintiffs were pregnant or postpartum while under Hadden's care.

Claims include licking and digitally penetrating his patients' vaginas without gloves, and fondling their breasts and anuses. DiPietro said two of the women were 15 and 16 years old when Hadden was their doctor, and at their first gynecological examinations.

DiPietro said he believes a special prosecutor or even a U.S. attorney should handle the case.

"If they are so willing to mistreat these women the first time around, I have no confidence that they are actually going to handle this appropriately going forward," DiPietro said.

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