Aja Newman, a Black woman from New York City, was drugged and molested by a doctor during a visit to the emergency room in 2016.
Two years later, former doctor David Newman is free and living in New Orleans near his ex-wife and kids, New York Magazine’s The Cut reports.
Aja, now 33, went to Mount Sinai hospital on January 12, 2016, due to extreme shoulder pain.
Andy Jagoda, the head of the Emergency Medicine Department, who had been at Mount Sinai for 20-plus years, was the first doctor to care for her.
David Newman, an overnight attending physician, took over when Jagoda’s shift ended. Jagoda even joked that the doctor and Aja could be related because they had the same last name, The Cut reports.
Aja remembered Jagoda as a friendly guy, but “I never got the friendly thing from David Newman. He was very straight to the point,” she told The Cut.
Hospital records show that Newman ordered four milligrams of morphine, which a nurse administered around midnight.
Newman then gave Aja another dose although she objected.
“Don’t jump,” she recalled him telling him as she felt the burn around her skin from the medicine going through the IV port.
“I’m like, ‘Wait. Whoa, whoa, whoa. This is not okay.’ And I am immediately concerned. I”m going under way too fast,” she said.
Aja and her six siblings, as well as her three children, had been born at the hospital where her grandmother had been a nurse, so she didn’t feel there was any reason to think then-Dr. Newman had any intention of harming her.
Mount Sinai was “my hospital,” she told The Cut, adding that she generally felt safe like, “Hey, Doc, do your thing. I trust you.”
Aja recalled feeling Dr. Newman move the bed and wedge himself between it and the wall. He then began groping her breasts and masturbating.
“I was in and out of consciousness, and one of the first things I felt was him groping my breast,” she told The Cut. “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.”
Aja said that the sound of him masturbating was unmistakable and afterward he roughly wiped her down with the bedsheet before muttering, “Bitch.”
A while later, Aja was able to get up from the bed and stumble her way to the bathroom while having foggy images of what just occurred. She didn’t feel confident anyone would believe her if she told anyone what happened since she was still drugged and not in a position to say anything.
“But I know I’m in danger. And I’m like, ‘You’ve got to get out of here,’” she said.
Four hours later, Aja was stable enough to leave the ER alone.
Hospital video shows her dressed in her winter coat and fedora-style hat, moving unsteadily toward the exit. She was carrying a large plastic bag with her hospital gown and bedding inside with the hope that she could use it as forensic evidence, The Cut reports.
Hospital video also showed Dr. Newman moving about the ER attending to various patients. Around 2 am he was working at his computer before he got up and walked away only to return moments later. This time though, his shirttail appeared to be untucked a little, The Cut reports. After that, the video showed his shirt was tucked in again.
Aja vomited outside of the hospital on the sidewalk before walking half a mile to her sister Shatekqua’s house and asking her to call the police.
“My sister went to the hospital last night. She says the doctor masturbated -- jerked off … on her? On her. This is crazy, the stuff you make up in movies. I mean, what the hell?” her sister said on the 911 call, The Cut reports.
Aja declined an ambulance and her sister relayed that information to the 911 dispatcher before adding, “She just needs the police.”
Newman told a detective who showed up at his Montclair, New Jersey home around 9 pm on January 12, 2016, “I am embarrassed because I whacked of 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.”
He then told the detective, “She may be mistaken about me ejaculating on her face, because she was on morphine. I gave her a second dose of morphine myself.”
Newman then asked the detective three times, “Is she alleging that I raped her?”
Luckily, Aja had taken the hospital robe and bedsheet in hopes it would lead to proof of her claims.
But when she also asked the technician, who sprayed Luminol on the bag of evidence, to also spray her, what they saw was shocking.
“It was all over my face, all over between my breasts like I told her,” Aja told The Cut. “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.”
The New York State Supreme Court sentenced David Newman to prison one year later after lab tests showed that Aja was given more than just morphine that night.
In addition, she was given an “unauthorized does of propofol,” The Cut reports, which is the powerful anesthetic often used in surgeries and was responsible for the death of Michael Jackson.
Semen samples gathered during forensic tests matched the doctor’s DNA.
Despite the evidence, Newman cut a deal by pleading guilty to one count of sexual abuse in the first degree and four counts of sexual abuse in the third degree to reduce his sentence to two years.
There were also three more victims, who claimed Newman also molested them in the last half of 2015. Their symptoms and reasons for visiting the ER included a cold, a rash on an eyebrow, and a headache.
All four of the women, including Aja, are women of color from low-income areas.
Newman was fired from Mount Sinai and the New York State Department of Health revoked his medical license.
Dr. Uché Blackstock, who knew the former physician, tweeted Tuesday (October 22) in support of Aja and all victims, writing, “I knew David Newman, but when I very first heard your story, Aja, I believed you. You deserved to be protected the most. I’m so sorry you had to go through this, but we are fighting to make sure this never happens again.”