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Evelyn Yang, who is married to presidential hopeful Andrew Yang, gave a personal speech about sexual assault at the 2020 Women's March, asking women to “roar against sexual violence...and the culture of cover-up that so often follows.”
Taking the stage at the fourth annual event on Saturday in New York City, Evelyn introduced herself as a “professional marketer turned stay-at-home mom” with two sons, one of whom is autistic, and as a true New Yorker. After explaining that Andrew is “fighting for big structural change,” Evelyn detailed sexual assault allegations against a former Columbia University OBGYN, which she also disclosed in a Friday interview with CNN
Evelyn alleges that in 2012, while pregnant with her and Andrew’s first son, she was sexually assaulted by her Dr. Robert Hadden after asking her inappropriate sexual questions.
"There was absolutely no premise for that line of questioning, and it seemed like he just wanted to hear about me talking about sex,” Evelyn told CNN. “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."
Evelyn also claimed the doctor put her through unnecessary examinations, and that when she was seven months pregnant, he physically assaulted her. "I was in the exam room, and I was dressed and ready to go,” she told CNN. “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.”
Evelyn said she left his practice after the alleged incident and blamed herself, even keeping it a secret from Andrew. “....I thought, 'This happened to me. I can process this. I can deal with it. I can compartmentalize it,'" she told CNN.
CNN reported that Hadden’s attorney has denied Evelyn’s allegations and also declined to be interviewed by the outlet.
On Saturday, Evelyn explained how receiving a letter from a female entrepreneur helped her go public. “Now you might have heard that I’m standing here today, also as a survivor of sexual assault,” she told the people in the crowd. “There are far too many of us.”
Evelyn further said, “...I lived with shame and regret. I later discovered that he had assaulted dozens of women over a period of decades at a university hospital that enabled his abuse. And then, that university used all of their institutional influence and power to set up a plea bargain of the century.”
“There was no jail time,” she said, as the crowd booed. “Barely a registered sex offender. The victims in this case were thrown under the bus. We had no visibility as to the deal making. No real explanation and no justice.”
What Evelyn Yang is doing is incredibly brave. I thank her for speaking out and sharing her heartbreaking story. We must do everything we can to eradicate sexual assault in this country and hold perpetrators accountable. https://t.co/ckojqaYaKA
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 17, 2020
According to CNN, 18 women, including Evelyn, accused Hadden of sexual assault and she testified against him before a grand jury. However, in 2016, Hadden reportedly struck a plea deal in which he pled guilty to only two charges: forcible touching and third-degree sexual abuse. The doctor reportedly lost his medical license and registered as a low-level sexual offender. Yang and 32 other women are currently suing Columbia University saying it "actively concealed, conspired, and enabled" abuse.
At the march, Evelyn mentioned the sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein saying, “This is happening right now underneath our noses every day. It is the abuse of power and privilege. Counting on women to feel helpless and stay silent because if they speak up, who will listen? Who will believe them? And what will even change?”
She added, “...the theme of this march is to rise and roar. It’s very personal. As terrifying as it was to share my story on a national stage, I had to believe that coming forward would help me reclaim my voice and help others reclaim theirs, otherwise we would all just be another statistic in the shadows.”
On Friday, Bernie Sanders called Evelyn “incredibly brave” on Twitter. “I thank her for speaking out and sharing her heartbreaking story,” he wrote. “We must do everything we can to eradicate sexual assault in this country and hold perpetrators accountable.”
And in response to his wife’s CNN interview, Yang released a statement to the outlet: "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."
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