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A heartbreaking story recently published in The Cut shows the intersection of medical violence, class and the criminal justice system, which astronomically failed four, poor Black minority women who were taken advantage of during their most vulnerable moments.

The story begins with Aja Newman, a 33-year-old New York City resident who was sexually assaulted by David Newman, a white ex-doctor who practiced at Mt. Sinai, one of the largest hospitals in the city.

Around 11 p.m. on January 11, 2016, Aja Newman reluctantly checked herself into the Mt. Sinai’s emergency room after suffering from intense shoulder pain. She was first seen by Dr.Andy Jagoda, the head of the Emergency Medicine Department, who took her vitals and told her to wait for the exam room. Once she put on her exam gown she was handed from Dr. Jagoda to Dr. David Newman. Aja was immediately uneasy.

He was a superstar doc at Mt. Sinai, she was a working class woman of color who drugged and sexually assaulted her.

 

“I never got the friendly thing from David Newman. He was very straight to the point,” she said.

Four hours later, around 2 a.m., she remembers groggily walking down the hallway with her IV on the way to the restroom, trying to piece together whether or not what she experienced was a dream or reality.

She remembers Newman forcing her to take an unnecessary amount of morphine even after she refused and then positioning himself between the bed and the wall and masturbating while he molested her. At some point, he also ejaculated on her.

“I was in and out of consciousness, and one of the first things I felt was him groping my breast,” she said. “It wasn’t really real until I realized I couldn’t move. I can’t say I know my eyes weren’t open, but I couldn’t see.

“I felt the bed move. And the groping was making me like, ‘Get off me.’ I’m trying to move. I’m trying to fight. And it’s like either he’s really strong or I’m not doing anything at all.”

According to The Cut, records show Aja was given four milligrams of morphine in addition to an unauthorized dose of propofol, the same drug that killed Michael Jackson.

When she finally reached her sister’s home near Mt. Sinai around 6 a.m., in the same neighborhood she grew up in, her sister called the police. Those accusations, along with the sheet and hospital gown Aja took with her, created a paper trail of evidence against Newman which would be brought into court later.

Aja’s sister accompanied her to Harlem Hospital where a rape kit was administered. When forensic scientists sprayed the hospital sheets with luminol to find any bodily fluids other evidence, they found nothing after examining it under UV lights. Aja asked a technician administering the exam to spray her body with luminol. Though the technician objected at first, he ultimately did as she asked.

“I heard the whole room [gasp.]” “[Semen] was all over my face, all over between my breasts like I told her. I remember she started crying, and she was like, ‘Aja, don’t move.’ And she took the samples off my face. I believe that’s the only thing that caught him.”

Investigators were able to match Newman as the perpetrator from a sample collected near her right eye. Aja believes had it not been for her instruction, Newman may have walked free.

When police came to his home to question him, Newman confessed to masturbating, but not to sexual assault. He explained to police that he’d been masturbating prior to seeing Aja in the ER.

“I am embarrassed,” he said, “because I whacked off in the lounge, and it was possible that the ejaculate may have gone from my hands to the woman’s blanket. Semen may also have transferred from my hand to her face during the time I treated her. I can’t believe this is happening. My explanation doesn’t make sense.”

“She may be mistaken about me ejaculating on her face, because she was on morphine,” he continued. “I gave her a second dose of morphine myself.”

And then, three different times, “Is she alleging that I raped her?”

Newman was ultimately arrested, fired from Mt. Sinai and his medical license was revoked. In a case brought by the state, Newman was found to have abused or groped three other women in 2015. All of them were women of color and poor. In his defense, Newman argued that he suffered from mental illness and stress due to his work.

In 2017, as part of a plea deal, Newman’s sentence was reduced to two years in prison for pleading guilty to one count of sexual abuse in the first degree, and four counts of sexual abuse in the third degree.

Newman has since been released from jail and has relocated to New Orleans to near his ex-wife and kids.

Newman was a doctor on the rise at Mt. Sinai and his charisma and the accolades coming his way allowed him to rise through the ranks at the hospital, a climb that some critics feel left him without accountability during the investigation of Aja’s case. On at least two occasions, staff declined to report accusations regarding Newman to their superiors, according to data held by the U.S. Department of Health.

Aja sued Mt. Sinai for an unspecified amount of damages. At one point she turned down a $30,000 settlement from Newman.

“The nice Aja says, ‘No, thank you, sir,’ ” she said. “But all I completely felt was ‘Eff him.’ ”

 

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