Sexual abuse survivors resign from New York prosecutor

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At an early morning press conference outside of New York City, Hadden's accusers, Marissa Hoechstetter and Dayna Solomon, stayed with supporters and called for the expulsion of Manhattan's top prosecutor, saying he was overly lenient with the man who supposedly abused them.

"When I reported the crimes against me to the prosecutor in 2015, I was one of more than 20 women who spoke out about the same man," said Hoechstetter on Thursday. "Instead of respecting me and seeking justice, the prosecutor decided to offer Hadden an argument that some call the deal of the century."

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Hadden, a former Columbia University hospital system doctor, was facing nine charges related to allegations of sexual abuse when he made a deal with prosecutors at Vance's office in 2016.

Hadden was accused of groping, penetrating and licking several women. Hadden finally pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual abuse. Under the agreement, he waived his medical license and did not serve jail time.

"Cyrus Vance obtained all the information necessary to respond appropriately to the victims," ​​Solomon said on Thursday. "Instead, he did everything he could to make sure Robert Hadden avoided arrest."

Hadden's case has received renewed attention since Evelyn Yang told CNN last week she was assaulted by the doctor in 2012. CNN also reported that Hadden was arrested in his office in 2012 before Yang's alleged attack, after another patient told police that Hadden had licked his vagina during an examination.

This arrest was overturned, however, and Hadden was allowed to return to work.

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"Vance allowed that to happen," said Hoechstetter of the revoked prison. "It's about him, and he must resign immediately."

Vance's office defended his conduct in the Hadden case as a way of ensuring that Hadden no longer saw patients.

"As a conviction is never a guaranteed result in a criminal trial, our main concern was to hold him accountable and ensure that he could never do that again – which is why we insist on a felony conviction and a permanent waiver of his conviction. sick leave ". Vance said in a statement to CNN.

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"While maintaining our legal analysis and the disposition resulting from this difficult case, we regret that this resolution has caused pain to the survivors."

Hadden denied the charges of assault in court documents, in addition to the two charges – criminal act of the third degree and forced touch – for which he pleaded guilty.

Downtown Marissa Hoechstetter and her lawyer, Anthony DiPietro, at the microphone, joined supporters on Thursday at New York City to ask for the resignation of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

Hoechstetter is the only plaintiff cited among 21 women suing Hadden, Columbia University and its affiliates.

Anthony DiPietro, a lawyer representing 47 women, including Hoechstetter and Solomon, who allege abuse by Hadden, said Thursday that Vance's office lied to two of his clients about whether they could bring criminal charges against the doctor.

"We know that at least two women who were introduced were tricked by the prosecution and said they were outside the criminal statute of limitations," said DiPietro. "We can compare the medical records of when they were abused with the date the final order was made. The statute of limitations was still intact for these patients, but Vance made the decision not to prosecute Hadden for these attacks."

Hoechstetter said that she was one of those two women.

Asked on Thursday to respond to this allegation, Vance's office declined to comment.

New York City Councilor Carlina Rivera, co-president of the city's Women & # 39; s Caucus, supported Vance's resignation.

"Under the leadership of Cy Vance, the Manhattan prosecutor's office, and specifically the sexual crimes unit and the special victims department, failed to protect and fight for survivors against wealthy, powerful white men who committed countless sexual attacks." , she said. "It's time for Cy Vance to step down."

The Hadden case is not the first time that the Manhattan prosecutor's office has been criticized for handling cases of sexual abuse.

In 2018, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo accused the state attorney general of reviewing Vance's office after the prosecution's decision not to prosecute Harvey Weinstein in a sexual abuse case in 2015. This review was put on hold several months later.

The attorney general's office, which is currently involved in its own lawsuit against Weinstein, confirmed to CNN on Thursday that the review at Vance's office remains on hold.

Weinstein is now being tried for rape in New York City and pleaded not guilty.

Vance will be re-elected in 2021.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled accuser Dayna Solomon's first name incorrectly.

CNN's Nelli Black and Drew Griffin contributed to this report.

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