Evelyn Yang Reveals She Was Sexually Assaulted by Columbia University Doctor While Pregnant
By Editorial Staff
January 16, 2020
Evelyn Yang, whose husband is Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, has revealed a shattering secret she hasn’t even told her own parents — she is a sexual assault survivor.
She’s coming forward now after reading a letter sent to her husband from a woman who decided to press sexual assault charges against an investor in her company after hearing her speak on the campaign trail about how female entrepreneurs aren’t supported enough, according to CNN.
“I remember reading that letter and others and saying, ‘I feel you. I wish I could reach out to you and tell you I understand. I have my own story.’
“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.
“Everyone has their own MeToo story. It’s far too prevalent. But 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.”
In early 2012, Yang was pregnant with her first child, Christopher. In her search for an obstetrician-gynecologist, she found Dr. Robert Hadden, a doctor with a good reputation working at a famous Columbia University medical facility.
However, after a few months, Hadden started asking Yang inappropriate questions about her sex life that had nothing to do with her health or the baby.
“There was absolutely no premise for that line of questioning, and it seemed like he just wanted to hear about me talking about sex. 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.”
Hadden recommended Yang come in more often for longer exams that she later learned she didn’t need but believed she needed to trust him.
When Yang was seven months pregnant, she went in for an examination.
“I was in the exam room, and I was dressed and ready to go. Then, at the last minute, he kind of made up an excuse. He said something about, ‘I think you might need a C-section,’ and he proceeded to grab me over to him and undress me and examine me internally, ungloved.
“I knew it was wrong. I knew I was being assaulted.”
When he was done assaulting Yang, Hadden didn’t wash his hands and left the room. Yang left his clinic and never went back.
Yang reflected on her reaction to the assault:
“I imagined myself as someone being, you know, like I would throw a chair at him and run out yelling bloody murder.
“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.”
Yang told no one, not even her husband Andrew, about her assault. She rushed to find a new doctor for the remainder of her pregnancy.
She Blamed Herself
She believes that when Hadden started asking her irrelevant questions about her sex life, he was grooming her for the imminent sexual assault. She believes he took advantage of the anxiety that expecting mothers may have as well as the trust women put in him as a doctor to assault them. Moreover, she blamed herself for a long time after the assault.
“I thought there was something I did to invite this kind of behavior.
“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.”
Evelyn Kept it a Secret from Andrew
Yang revealed why she didn’t tell Andrew about her assault at first.
“I didn’t tell Andrew or my family because I didn’t want to upset them. I thought, ‘This happened to me. I can process this. I can deal with it. I can compartmentalize it.’
“I certainly didn’t want Andrew blaming himself for not being able to go with me to these doctor’s visits because honestly, if he was with me in the room, if anyone was with me in the room, this obviously wouldn’t have happened.”
Yang clarified that she never asked Andrew to go with her to the doctor’s visits. Andrew had been traveling a lot during that time for work on a nonprofit he had started.
More Women Were Assaulted
Many months after the assault and after the birth of her child, Yang received a letter in the mail notifying her that Hadden had left his practice.
She Googled his name and soon learned that another woman reported to the police that she was assaulted.
“And at that moment, everything just stood still. It was this sense of relief of finally realizing that I wasn’t alone in it.”
She stopped blaming herself and finally told her husband.
“It wasn’t something that I did. This was a serial predator and he just picked me as his prey.
“I needed to share it at that moment because it felt so big to me and I needed that support. And I told him, and he cried.’”
Yang’s revelation reminded Andrew of a time she came home and went on about how men should never be allowed to be OB-GYNs.
“He remembered that I had made this comment and he felt so bad. He felt guilty that he didn’t make the connection or ask me more. He felt terrible for me, and I think that’s what I was trying to prevent by not telling him in the first place.”
On Thursday, Andrew Yang gave a statement on how he felt about the incident:
“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.”
Hadden Dodges Jail After Lawsuit
Yang found a lawyer and soon learned that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office already had an open case where several women accused Hadden of assault.
However, the Manhattan DA, Cy Vance Jr., is the same attorney who initially failed to prosecute Harvey Weinstein and was lenient in getting Jeffrey Epstein to register as a sex offender.
Yang worked with Assistant District Attorney Laura Millendorf, whose case against Hadden involved 18 former female patients, including Yang herself. Millendorf gave Yang the impression that they would have a strong case to put Hadden in jail.
Yang testified before a grand jury which indicted Hadden on multiple felony sex charges. Until the revelation of her sexual assault, she had remained anonymous in the case.
Legal filings show that Hadden’s attorney denied Yang’s allegations.
Then, Yang didn’t hear from Millendorf for months.
In 2016, Millendorf notified Yang that the Manhattan DA’s office accepted a plea deal with Hadden where he would avoid jail, lose his medical license, and register as the lowest-level sex offender. Hadden pleaded guilty to only two of the nine charges against him, one count of forcible touching and one count of third-degree sexual abuse. The guilty plea also only included two of the nine women, and Yang wasn’t either of them.
Yang revealed how Millendorf told her:
“She sounded apologetic. She told me that the deal was made above her head, that she was taken out of the negotiations because she was pushing for jail time.
“She sounded like she wasn’t in favor of that outcome, but she tried to be positive and sell it to me as well. At least he’s off the streets, he’s not practicing anymore, he won’t be able to do this anymore to anyone else.”
Cy Vance told CNN in a statement:
“Dr. Hadden was a serial sexual predator who used access and power to take advantage of women in their most vulnerable states. We support all of his survivors, and applaud their strength and courage. Because a conviction is never a guaranteed outcome in a criminal trial, our primary concern was holding him accountable and making sure he could never do this again — which is why we insisted on a felony conviction and permanent surrender of his medical license. While we stand by our legal analysis and resulting disposition of this difficult case, we regret that this resolution has caused survivors pain.”
In the aftermath, Yang was frustrated that she and the other women didn’t get a chance to speak directly to the judge, saying that they were “strategically” denied the chance:
“I was just flat-out denied, other women flat-out denied. And that was very strategic. It was very strategic so that the judge wouldn’t be influenced if there were dozens of women in court saying that this man had assaulted them to this degree, maybe the judge would have said, ‘Why is he not getting any jail time? Why aren’t you pursuing jail time?'”
The Survivors Were Betrayed Twice
By the time Harvey Weinstein’s case gained traction thanks to the influence of the #MeToo movement, the survivors from Hadden’s case realized that the DA’s office betrayed them. Yang explained:
“It’s like getting slapped in the face and punched in the gut. The DA’s office is meant to protect us, is meant to serve justice, and there was no justice here.”
Yang also holds Columbia University accountable, alleging they “actively concealed, conspired, and enabled” Hadden’s sexual exploitation of patients. Both Evelyn and Andrew Yang have earned degrees from Columbia.
Yang learned that just six weeks before her own assault, Hadden had been arrested in his office after a woman told police he licked her vagina during an exam. His arrest was voided, according to CNN, and he was allowed to go back to work.
“What happened to me should have never happened. He was arrested in his office. I mean at the very least, the bare minimum would be to make sure that there’s an aide all the time, and that’s what’s very painful is knowing that actually what happened to me could have been prevented.
“Can you imagine the audacity of a man who continues to do this after being arrested? It’s like he knew that he wouldn’t face any repercussions. That he was protected. That he wouldn’t be fired.”
Yang, along with 31 other women are now suing Columbia University, its affiliates and Hadden for allowing alleged assaults to happen as far back as 1992.
The civil suit alleges Hadden performed unnecessary exams, forced patients to strip naked, groped their bodies and breasts, penetrated their vaginas and anuses with his fingers, and “surreptitiously licking countless patients’ vaginas.” It also claims that Columbia University “kept the complaints secret to avoid negative publicity” and that medical assistants who knew that the sex abuse was taking place weren’t trained or empowered enough to intervene.
Columbia University, who is contesting the suit, called the allegations against Hadden “abhorrent” and they “deeply apologize to those whose trust was violated,” according to a spokesman.
“It’s a name-brand university behind this doctor, using their influence to protect themselves at the expense of the victims in the case,” Evelyn Yang said.
Now Yang seeks to use her platform and voice to help and empower women everywhere who have experienced similar traumas:
“I need to use that voice. I feel like it’s something that’s an obligation but also a privilege and a gift that I get to share my story now and also help other women.
“It’s my high hope for this — it’s to empower myself and to empower other women. This is very hard to come out with, but I hope it, and I have to believe, that it’s worth it.”
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