Editor’s note: This article contains descriptions of sexual assault.
Evelyn Yang, a Columbia Law alumna and wife of 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, publicly discussed being sexually assaulted by former Columbia-affiliated gynecologist, Robert Hadden, in an exclusive interview with CNN Thursday evening. Yang became one of Hadden’s patients in 2012 while pregnant with her first child. In the interview, she alleges that as her pregnancy progressed, Hadden would ask inappropriate questions about her sex life. When she was seven months pregnant, Hadden touched her unnecessarily and give her an internal examination without gloves; after this, Yang left his practice.
Several months after Yang was assaulted, another woman came forward with allegations against Hadden. Ultimately 18 women, including Yang, worked with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to begin building a case against the doctor. However, Hadden negotiated a plea deal with the DA’s office and in 2016, he pled guilty to one count of forcible touching and one count of third-degree sexual abuse, registered as the lowest level sex offender and lost his medical license, but avoided spending any time in jail. Hadden’s attorney has denied Yang’s allegations in legal filings and her accusations were not among those Hadden pled guilty to.
Yang’s interview brings new attention to the lawsuit she and 31 other women have filed against Hadden, Columbia University, and affiliated hospitals. The plaintiffs allege the university was negligent and committed fraud in order to cover up the gynecologist’s decades of sexually abusing patients. Filed in December 2018, the original 17 plaintiffs have accused Columbia “medical chaperones, nurses, supervisors, administrators, doctors and other hospital personnel” of having knowledge of Hadden’s abuse of his patients and doing nothing to stop it. In particular, the case alleges a nurse who reported abuse to her supervisor was instructed not to talk about the incident. The lawsuit also details an alleged incident in which a woman filed a complaint that led to Hadden being escorted out of the building only for him to return to work at the hospital. It further claims that Columbia has continued to provide Hadden with disability benefits. In the interview, Yang criticized Columbia for using its prestige and “influence to protect themselves at the expense of the victims in this case.” Columbia and its hospitals are contesting the lawsuit under the statute of limitations.
Columbia Medical Center via Bwog Archives