Evelyn Yang, wife of Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, revealed Thursday in an interview with CNN that when she was seven months pregnant with her first child in 2012, she was sexually assaulted by her OB-GYN, Robert Hadden, during a routine exam.
"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," she told CNN. "I knew it was wrong. I knew I was being assaulted."
She also told CNN that prior to the incident, Hadden would ask her inappropriate and unsolicited questions about her sex life with her husband.
Like many victims of sexual assault, Yang blamed herself for what happened for a long time. Nearly, and for years, she was one of them.
"I thought there was something I did to invite this kind of behavior," 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."
It wasn't until months after her son Christopher was born that she began to realize the assault was not her fault, she said. She received a letter that Hadden had left his practice, and when she looked him up online, she found that he had assaulted another woman who had reported the incident to the police.
She decided to tell her husband about what occurred, and together they found an attorney. The couple found that at least 17 other female patients, including some minors, have accused Hadden of assault.
The women accused Hadden of abuse similar to that described by Yang. Marissa Hoechstetter, who has gone public with her accusations, detailed her experiences with Hadden in a lawsuit, saying he would conduct prolonged breast examinations.described him disrobing and fondling them, and using un-gloved fingers and his tongue during exams.
After CNN aired Yang's story, Hoechstetter tweeted a message of support, saying she is "fiercely proud of her."
A grand jury indicted Hadden on multiple felony sex charges. But in 2016, the Manhattan district attorney's office agreed to a plea deal. Out of the nine charges against him,— one count of forcible touching and another count of third-degree sexual abuse — and he did not have to go to jail. Instead, he lost his medical license and registered as the lowest-level sex offender.
Within minutes of CNN publishing its interview with Yang on Thursday, Andrew Yang tweeted a simple, heartfelt message: "I love my wife very very much."
In a statement Thursday, Yang added his "heart breaks" when he thinks about what happened. He said he is "extraordinarily proud" of his wife.
"She is my best friend and the bravest woman I know," Andrew Yang said. "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."
Evelyn Yang told CNN she hopes sharing her story will empower herself and others. "I need to use that voice," she said. "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."