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Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang‘s wife, Evelyn Yang, is revealing herself as one of the women to come forward and accuse former gynecologist Robert Hadden of sexual assault.
Evelyn alleges that while she was Hadden’s patient in 2012, he not only asked her inappropriate questions and called for “unnecessary” appointments, during one appointment he undressed her and proceeded to “examine me internally, ungloved,” when she was seven months pregnant with son Christopher, she told CNN in an interview published on Thursday.
Evelyn told the outlet Hadden would frequently ask her “inappropriate, unsolicited questions about sexual activity with her husband.”
“There was absolutely no premise for that line of questioning, and it seemed like he just wanted to hear about me talking about sex,” she told the outlet. “What I kept sticking to was this: ‘Okay, 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.”
But as the weeks of her pregnancy progressed, Evelyn said that her “examinations became longer, more frequent, and I learned that they were unnecessary most of the time.” She said that she told herself, “I suppose I just need to trust him.”
By the seventh month of her pregnancy, Evelyn said she was in the exam room “dressed and ready to go” after the appointment.
“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.”
While Evelyn said she imagined herself as someone who “would throw a chair at him and run out yelling bloody murder” in such a situation, she “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,” she said, adding that Hadden didn’t even wash his hands before leaving the room.
It wasn’t until months later, when Evelyn read about other women accusing Hadden of assault, that she decided to tell her husband.
“I’m extraordinarily proud of Evelyn for telling her story, and my heart breaks every time I think of what she had to experience,” Andrew said in a statement on Thursday. “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,” the politician continued. “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 said that learning that other women had spoken out against Hadden was “life-changing” for her.
“I mean, it felt like I wasn’t alone, and it felt so good not to be alone in this,” she told CNN.
Evelyn was one of 18 women that accused Hadden of assault, and she testified before a grand jury. Hadden was indicted on multiple felony sex charges, but in 2016 reached a plea deal with the District Attorney’s office.
While Hadden pled guilty to two of the nine counts against him — one count of forcible touching and one count of third-degree sexual abuse — Evelyn was not one of the women he admitted to assaulting.
Hadden lost his medical license and had to register as the lowest-level sex offender. He did not receive any jail time.
“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,” District Attorney Cy Vance said in a statement to CNN.
“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,” Vance’s statement continued. “While we stand by our legal analysis and resulting disposition of this difficult case, we regret that this resolution has caused survivors pain.”
Evelyn expressed frustration that she was not allowed a chance to speak in front of the judge at Hadden’s sentencing.
“I was just flat-out denied, other women flat-out denied,” she said. “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?'”
Hadden’s lawyer did not immediately have a comment when reached by PEOPLE.
Evelyn is now part of a group of women suing Columbia University for allegedly covering up Hadden’s behavior.
She said that after speaking to women while on the campaign trail with her husband inspired her to tell her story, so many years later.
“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. And I just happen to be able to have a platform to talk about it,” she said. “”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,” she added. “This is very hard to come out with, but I hope it, and I have to believe, that it’s worth it.”
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.