In an exclusive interview with CNN, Evelyn Yang, wife of Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, spoke about being sexually assaulted and sexually abused by her OB-GYN. This was the first time she’s shared the event, something she’d even kept secret from her family. “Not everyone can tell their story,” Yang said to CNN. “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.”
Preying on Vulnerability
The incidents occurred in 2012 during Yang’s first pregnancy. Trusted recommendations found the Yang’s choosing on Dr. Robert Hadden as their OB-GYN.
Initially, things felt normal during her visits. As Yang’s pregnancy progressed, Hadden’s behavior changed. The OB-GYN began questioning Yang about sexual activity with her husband – questions unrelated to the health of her health or her unborn child. Yang told CNN she believes Hadden was prepping her for sexual abuse.
As the pregnancy progressed, Hadden gave Yang more exams. Yang told CNN, like many women going through a pregnancy, she didn’t realize the exams were unnecessary. “I didn’t know that you’re not supposed to get an exam every time you went to see the doctor.” Yang said she felt Hadden took advantage of her during a time when a woman is at her most vulnerable.
Things escalated from there.
Yang’s Assault and Journey as Sexual Assault Victim
When Yang was seven months pregnant, Hadden suddenly said she might need a Caesarean section (C-section). The doctor grabbed Yang, pulling her over to him, then undressed and examined her, “internally, ungloved.” Breaking into tears during her on-camera interview, Yang said, “At first I was like, “What is going on here?” Then, “I knew it was wrong. I knew I was being assaulted.”
She knows now, “I feel like I put up with some inappropriate behavior I didn’t know at the time was straight-up sexual abuse/sexual assault until much later. And I regret having put up with that because it ended up in a sexual assault that was indisputable. Quite blatant.”
As the assault was happening, Yang told CNN, “I just kind of froze like a deer in headlights, just frozen. I knew it was happening. I could feel it. I remember trying to fix my eyes on a spot on the wall and just trying to avoid seeing his face as he was assaulting me, just waiting for it to be over.”
Like many sexual assault survivors, Yang blamed herself. She’d always imagined she’d take action in the moment if ever assaulted, she told CNN. “I feel like I put up with some inappropriate behavior that I didn’t know at the time was straight-up sexual abuse/sexual assault until much later, and I regret having put up with that.”
Yang left the practice, never to return. She told no one of the assault. Not even her husband. One day, a news headline caught her eye. A woman had reported Hadden to the police for assault. It was then she realized she wasn’t alone. “It wasn’t something that I did. This was a serial predator and he just picked me as his prey.”
She was ready to reveal the secret she’d been holding so closely to her husband.
Hadden’s Victims Take Action
Eighteen female patients of Hadden’s accused the OB-GYN of assault. Yang testified at Hadden’s hearing, where the doctor was indicted on multiple felony sex charges. Hadden’s victims weren’t given the opportunity to speak to the judge during Hadden’s sentencing.
Ultimately, CNN reports, “In 2016, the Manhattan district attorney’s office agreed to a plea deal with Hadden. He pleaded guilty to two of nine charges against him — one count of forcible touching and one count of third-degree sexual abuse. As part of the deal, Hadden would lose his medical license and register as the lowest-level sex offender, but he would not go to jail.”
Now, Yang and 31 other women are suing Columbia University, its affiliates and Hadden for sexual exploitation said to have occurred starting in 1992.
Yang Empowers Others
Though Yang attempted to keep this part of her life private while on the campaign trail, her interactions with women while on the road inspired her to share her story to empower others. In the CNN article, she concluded, “This is very hard to come out with, but I hope it, and I have to believe, that it’s worth it.”
In a statement released Thursday, Andrew Yang said, “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.”
Andrew Yang’s statement continued, “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.”