Evelyn Yang is the bravest woman I know (opinion)

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Yang told CNN's Dana Bash that the abusive behavior started in 2012 when Dr. Robert Hadden, then her doctor, started asking inappropriate questions about her unrelated sexual activity or the baby. She said the behavior went so far as to attack while continuing her visits, which she later discovered were medically unnecessary.

When Yang's story was released on Thursday night, Twitter exploded in a rare display of unity and support, and the hashtag #WeLoveYouEvelynYang started to be a trend.

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I cried when I forced myself to read this woman's story. Yang's sheer courage is undeniable, but it also made me think of the sheer horror she went through, how much she fought, even when the medical and criminal justice institutions apparently failed her, and how purely fearless she is not just sharing your story now, but continue to give survivors a voice.

"Everyone has their own MeToo story," said Evelyn Yang. "It is very prevalent. But not everyone can tell their story. Not everyone has an audience or platform to tell their story, and I really feel that I am in this privileged position to be able to do that."

Yang is one of 18 women who worked with the Manhattan prosecutor's office to set up a case against Hadden, a gynecologist at Columbia University and New York's Presbyterian Hospital. After Yang testified before a grand jury, which indicted Hadden on several criminal sex charges, the Manhattan district attorney's office Cy Vance – the same public prosecutor's office that was lenient with Jeffrey Epstein and initially failed to sue the now-known alleged sex abuser Harvey Weinstein – reached a court settlement with Hadden in 2016.

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As part of the deal, Hadden pleaded guilty to two counts, would lose his medical license and register as the lowest-level sex offender, but would avoid any arrest. Hadden denied the charges for which he did not plead guilty.

Exclusive: Evelyn Yang reveals she was sexually assaulted by her gynecologist during pregnancy

Yang told CNN that the assistant prosecutor who was working with her seemed disappointed by this result. The ADA declined, via a city spokesman, to comment on CNN, but Yang told CNN that when he spoke to the ADA: "She seemed to apologize. She told me that the deal was made over her head, that she was withdrawn from the negotiations because she was pushing for prison ".

What makes Yang's story, and that of the other surviving women especially horrifying, is that many of these women, including Yang herself, were pregnant during the period of abuse and aggression. Any woman can tell you how vulnerable you feel in your gynecologist's office – but that feeling is multiplied by the hundreds when you're pregnant. By any number of measures, pregnancy is one of the most risky and times exposed – personally and statistically – of any woman's life.

Yang said the doctor abused this position of power, calling for more frequent and longer tests. During an appointment, when she was seven months pregnant, Yang said that Hadden was preparing to leave the exam room when he assaulted her.

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"I was in the exam room and I was dressed and ready to go" Yang told CNN. "So, at the last minute, he kind of made up an excuse. He said something about: & # 39; I think you might need a Caesarean section & # 39 ;, and he started grabbing me, undressing me and examining myself internally, without gloves. I knew I was wrong. I knew I was being assaulted. "
Rightly, enraged by Hadden's deal, Yang and 31 other women are now suing Columbia University, its affiliates, and Hadden alleging a "massive cover-up" that "actively concealed, conspired and allowed" Hadden's sexual exploitation, that the action claims to have occurred in 1992-1993.
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"It's like being slapped in the face and punched in the stomach," said Yang. "The prosecutor's office must protect us, serve justice and there was no justice here."

DA Cyrus Vance said in a statement to CNN: "Since a conviction is never a guaranteed result in a criminal trial, our main concern was to hold him accountable and make sure he could never do that again – which is why we insist on a crime. condemnation and permanent waiver of his medical license. While maintaining our legal analysis and the disposition resulting from this difficult case, we regret that this resolution has caused pain to the survivors ".

But Yang also blames Columbia University, where she and Andrew Yang are alumni, and who runs the medical facilities where Hadden practiced.

Yang claims that Columbia protected Hadden, and the evidence appears to support her. According to CNN, six weeks before Yang said he was assaulted in 2012, police went to Hadden's office and arrested him after a patient told police he had licked his vagina during an examination. But Hadden's arrest was overturned and he was allowed to return to work.

I can't believe that a university the size of Columbia University would continue to let Hadden practice even after he was arrested for such a vile abuse of a patient, but then why should we be surprised? Perhaps one of the most disturbing revelations in Yang's history is reading (again) about how powerful institutions protect sexual predators, from the prosecutor's office to Columbia.

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"Can you imagine the audacity of a man who keeps doing this after being arrested?" Yang stipulates. "It is as if he knew he would not face any repercussions. That he was protected. That he would not be fired."

The civil suit details a litany of sexual assault charges against Hadden, including forcing patients to undress, groping their breasts and bodies, digitally penetrating their vaginas and anus and "clandestinely licking countless patients' vaginas".

"It is a branded university behind this doctor, using his influence to protect himself at the expense of the victims in the case," added Yang.

Columbia and the hospital system are contesting the case for procedural reasons, and a university spokeswoman answered detailed questions from CNN about why Hadden was allowed to return to work after his arrest, calling the allegations "abhorrent" and apologizing ".to those whose trust has been violated".

Regardless of whether you support Andrew Yang as president, you cannot deny Evelyn Yang's bravery. By sharing his courageous story, Yang is empowering so many other women to present their stories, and in the #MeToo era, Evelyn Yang is opening a new frontier when it comes to holding sexual predators accountable.

Evelyn Yang's courageous story of survival and search for justice deserves our full attention.

"I am extraordinarily proud of Evelyn for telling her story, and my heart breaks every time I think about what she had to experience," said Andrew Yang in a statement. "She is my best friend and the most courageous woman I know."

After reading about her horrible story and unbelievable strength, I feel the same way – Evelyn Yang may also be the most courageous woman I know.

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