February 2, 2012
The Hartford Courant, By David Owens and John Charlton
East Hartford police said Wednesday that 15 to 20 women have contacted them and made allegations against Dr. Edwin A. Njoku, the East Hartford internist who was charged Tuesday with raping a patient in an exam room at his office in October.
The woman who first told police that Njoku raped her, Anolan Drago, came forward Wednesday, saying that she wants to see the doctor jailed.
"He did so many things that I don't want to remember," she said. "I can't live like this. I have nightmares. I've been jumping from the bed, asking for help. Nobody understands how bad it is."
After announcing Njoku's arrest Tuesday, police were flooded with calls from other women making similar allegations against him, said East Hartford Police Lt. Curt Stoldt.
At Njoku's arraignment Wednesday at Superior Court in Manchester, his attorney, Hartford lawyer William Gerace, criticized police for going into Njoku's office and arresting him in front of patients. Gerace said he had told East Hartford police that he would turn in Njoku once he knew an arrest warrant had been signed.
Judge Stanley T. Fuger Jr. left Njoku's bail at $825,000, ordered him to turn in his U.S. and Nigerian passports before posting bail and ordered him not to have any contact with his accuser. Njoku was charged with first-degree sexual assault, two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, bribery of a witness and first-degree unlawful restraint.
One of the fourth-degree sexual assault charges involves another victim, according to court documents.
East Hartford police continue to investigate Drago's allegations against Njoku, and they are interviewing the women who have called police since his arrest Tuesday.
"Any person that has information to provide should contact us," Stoldt said.
Drago, who is not named in court papers but identified herself to the media, said she came forward to encourage others to contact police about any inappropriate conduct by Njoku.
The Courant normally does not identify victims of sexual assault, but Drago agreed to be interviewed and agreed to have her name published.
According to the warrant for Njoku's arrest, released Wednesday, Njoku's DNA was found on Drago and her clothing hours after she said she had been assaulted. She reported the assault to police and was taken to Hartford Hospital, where medical staff collected physical evidence.
Drago, 28, of Hartford, told police that she went to Njoku for treatment of lower back pain, an ailment for which he had treated her for about three years and for which he had prescribed Percocet.
Drago said Wednesday that she called Njoku's office, Christus Medical Group, on Oct. 21 because she needed to retrieve her medical records from Njoku's office for her lawyer for a slip-and-fall case.
Njoku called her back that evening and told her to appear at his office at 2 p.m. the next day, which was a Saturday. When Drago arrived, she and Njoku were the only ones in the clinic, she told police.
He insisted on examining her, she said.
Drago said that Njoku brought her into an examination room. There, he touched her breast, and when she protested, he responded by saying he was checking for breast cancer, according to the warrant. He then asked Drago to lie down on an examination table. Drago said he held her down by pressing on her chest, and used his other hand to unbutton her pants. After fondling her vagina, he climbed on top of her, she said. Drago told police that she told Njoku, "stop, let me go," several times, but when she couldn't stop him, she "laid there … and just … wanted him to finish and for it to be over."
"He made a lot of pressure with his body on top of me," she said. "I couldn't fight back no more. I tried to scream, but it's like I couldn't breathe."
When it was over, according to the warrant, she said that Njoku said to her, "You weren't looking for this?"
Drago said she left the office and caught a bus home to Hartford. She said that Njoku called her and asked her to return to his office, but she refused.
According to the warrant, Njoku also tried to contact Drago and her family to get them to withdraw the complaint.
Njoku, according to the warrant, told Drago's father, "If I committed any error, everything has a solution we can fix."
In November, according to the warrant, a mutual friend of Njoku and Drago's family contacted the Drago family on Njoku's behalf, offering money to avoid going to court.
Njoku also went to Drago's home to try to see her and yelled from the street, according to the warrant. He left only after Drago's father threatened to call police.
Police said that Njoku invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and would not be interviewed by police. After they obtained a search warrant for his DNA, they did ask him to talk.
"You want me to admit I had intercourse? I'm not going to do that," Njoku said, according to the warrant.
He also told the officers, "Let the DNA show."
The arrest warrant also revealed that Njoku is being investigated for sexual assault by Hartford police for an incident reported in February 2009 at his office at 60 Gillette St. in Hartford.
In that case, a 24-year-old woman told police that she went to Njoku for treatment of back pain and that he felt her breast, then pressed his penis against her vagina while he was clothed. After the encounter, the woman told police that Njoku offered to increase her Percocet prescription.
Outside court, Gerace said the doctor's bail was "outrageous."
"The man's been in this country for 35 years and has a thriving medical practice," Gerace said. He accused East Hartford police of making a circus of Njoku's arrest.
He also said the doctor's accusers have issues with "the quality of their character." Both have made many claims against other people, Gerace said, although he would not provide specifics.
Gerace said that Njoku, a U.S. citizen, has long known that he was under investigation for sexual assault and could have fled if he wanted to do so. Instead, Gerace said, Njoku hired him to fight the charges.
Several of Njoku's patients appeared at his arraignment and spoke outside the courthouse in support of him.
"He's a very good doctor," said Latasha Phinn of Hartford. "I think someone is just trying to set him up."
Rena Brogdon of East Hartford said, "Dr. Njoku is a very respectable doctor. I just think he's being blackmailed."
State corporation records list Njoku as the manager of a medical office at 589 Burnside Ave.
Njoku worked for the state from October 2003 to March 2008 with Correctional Managed Health Care, a division of the University of Connecticut Health Center that provides medical care in the state's prisons and jails. He resigned in good standing from that position on March 31, 2008, a health center spokesman said.
Njoku's physician's license remains active, according to the state Department of Public Health. Department spokesman William Gerrish said that state law prevented him from confirming or denying an investigation of Njoku.
"The department takes this type of allegation very seriously, and while we cannot comment on a specific investigation, any allegation of harm to a patient generally warrants a review by the department," Gerrish said.