Evelyn Yang, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, revealed publicly for the first time to CNN that she was sexually assaulted by her obstetrician-gynecologist when she was pregnant.
The doctor, Robert Hadden, who had a practice in Manhattan, received a felony conviction for his abuse and lost his license in 2016.
In an interview with CNN, Yang said the inappropriate behavior began in 2012 when Hadden began asking her inappropriate questions about her sexual activity that didn’t appear related to her pregnancy or the baby.
The behavior advanced to the point of assault as she continued her visits, which she later learned were medically unnecessary.
“Something about being on the trail and meeting people and seeing the difference that we’ve been making already has moved me to share my own story about it, about sexual assault,” Yang told CNN.
“Not everyone can tell their story. Not everyone has the audience or platform to tell their story, and I actually feel like I’m in this very privileged position to be able to do that,” she said
Yang said she was concerned about the doctor’s line of questioning but felt like changing providers at that point would have been “overwhelming.”
“What I kept sticking to was this: ‘OK, so my doctor is pervy. I have a pervy doctor, but I’m going to focus on having a healthy baby,’ and the idea of changing doctors was overwhelming for me,” she told CNN.
Eventually, Hadden called her for more frequent and longer examinations, according to Yang. During one aggressive encounter, Yang said she was seven months pregnant and getting ready to leave the examination room when Hadden “made an excuse” about her needing a cesarean section, grabbed her, undressed her and assaulted her.
“He proceeded to grab me over to him and undress me and examine me internally, ungloved,” she told CNN, holding back tears. “At first, I was a little bit like, ‘What’s going on here?’”
In a statement to HuffPost, Andrew Yang praised his wife for sharing her experience.
“I’m extraordinarily proud of Evelyn for telling her story, and my heart breaks every time I think of what she had to experience. She is my best friend and the bravest woman I know,” the Democrat said.
After her story aired on CNN, he tweeted in support of his wife: “I love my wife very very much.”
Yang is one of 18 victims who helped the Manhattan district attorney’s office file a lawsuit against Hadden, who was a gynecologist at Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
The D.A.’s office began investigating Hadden in 2012 after a patient reported to police that he had licked her vagina and touched her nipples during an exam, according to a New York Times report. Other allegations against Hadden include groping and squeezing breastmilk from his patients, BuzzFeed reported in June 2018.
The district attorney’s office reached a plea deal with Hadden in 2016. The agreement helped Hadden avoid jail time and required him to register only as a Level 1 low-risk sex offender. A Level 1 offender is the lowest level available in New York. The designation kept Hadden’s name off the online list of offenders and requires him to be registered as a sex offender for only 20 years.
Many of the victims were surprised and angered by Hadden’s plea deal.
In December, 17 women sued Columbia University and its hospitals, accusing the university of a “massive coverup” over his abuse over more than two decades.
Yang said she is sharing her story now in order to empower other women.
“My experience with the sexual assault and all that happened afterwards is such a powerful and upsetting example of the truth that women are living with every day,” she told CNN. “And I just happen to be able to have a platform to talk about it.”
Read Andrew Yang’s full statement below:
“I’m extraordinarily proud of Evelyn for telling her story, and my heart breaks every time I think of what she had to experience. She is my best friend and the bravest woman I know. No one deserves to be harmed and treated the way she and countless other women have been. When victims of abuse come forward, they deserve our belief, support, and protection. I hope that Evelyn’s story gives strength to those who have suffered and sends a clear message that our institutions must do more to protect and respond to women.”