US & Canada

Andrew Yang's wife says gynaecologist sexually assaulted her

Evelyn Yang, pictured with husband Andrew Yang Image copyright EPA
Image caption Evelyn Yang, pictured with husband Andrew Yang, has alleged she was sexually assaulted while seven months pregnant with her first child

The wife of Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang has said she was sexually assaulted by her gynaecologist while she was pregnant with their first child.

Evelyn Yang has accused Robert Hadden of assaulting her at his New York practice in 2012.

Speaking to CNN, Ms Yang said she didn't tell her husband at first.

Ms Yang is one of 32 women suing Hadden and the university where he practised.

Hadden has denied the allegations in a court document. He was convicted of sexual assault in 2016 and surrendered his medical licence, but did not serve any jail time after accepting a plea deal.

Ms Yang, 38, said she was encouraged to speak out by the warm reception she and her husband had received when talking to voters about their son's autism.

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Image caption Andrew Yang says he is "extraordinary proud" of his wife

"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," Ms Yang revealed to CNN.

She said "everyone has their own Me Too story", referencing the global movement against sexual assault, but added "not everyone has the audience or platform to tell their story".

Ms Yang's husband Andrew, a tech entrepreneur who is vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, said he was "extraordinary proud" of his wife.

"When victims of abuse come forward, they deserve our belief, support, and protection," Mr Yang said in a statement on Thursday. "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."

What is Ms Yang alleging?

Ms Yang has accused Hadden of assaulting her in his examination room when she was seven months pregnant with her first child.

"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."

During the alleged assault, Ms Yang said she "froze like a deer in headlights" and tried to avoid his gaze, "just waiting for it to be over".

What else has Hadden been accused of?

Ms Yang said she told her husband about the alleged assault after the birth of their child, Christopher. Ms Yang said she was prompted to do so after reading about a woman who had accused Hadden of sexual assault.

Other women came forward and a case against Hadden was opened by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.

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Image caption Mr Yang is one of the Democrats vying for the party's presidential candidacy

Ms Yang helped prosecutors to build their case and testified before a grand jury, which indicted Hadden on multiple sex crime charges in 2014.

In 2016, Hadden accepted a plea deal after admitting one count of forcible touching and one count of third-degree sexual assault. As part of the deal, Hadden was stripped of his medical licence but did not go to prison.

Ms Yang and 31 other women are now suing Columbia University, which runs the medical practice where Hadden worked.

The lawsuit argues that the university and its affiliates "actively concealed, conspired, and enabled" Hadden's sexual exploitation.

Columbia University and the hospital system are fighting the lawsuit on procedural grounds, according to CNN.

A university spokeswoman said the allegations against Hadden were "abhorrent" and they "deeply apologise to those whose trust was violated".

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