"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," she said.
Evelyn Yang, wife of presidential candidate Andrew Yang, stood before thousands of people Saturday at the Women's March in New York City and talked about being sexually assaulted by her OB-GYN when she was pregnant with their first child.
The stay-at-home mother of two said the theme of the 2020 march, "to rise and to roar," felt personal and inspiring.
"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 shadows," she told the crowd.
Yang revealed the assault by Robert Madden in an interview Thursday on CNN. Until then, she had largely remained silent about the attack that occurred when she was seven months pregnant with their first child.
"I am standing here today also as a survivor of sexual assault," she said. "There are far too many of us."
Yang said she lived with shame and regret afterward. She never saw the doctor again and later discovered that dozens of other women had been abused by the same man.
Yang said a supporter wrote in a letter to her husband that after hearing him speak about how women entrepreneurs need more support she pressed charges against an investor who had sexually assaulted her.
"Her courage helped encourage mine," she said.
Yang's attorney, Anthony DiPietro, said 15 women have come forward with allegations against Hadden since the interview aired. Hadden lost his license in 2016 after pleading guilty to a felony count of criminal sexual act in the third degree and a misdemeanor count of forcible touching. At least 19 patients had accused him of sexual abuse over the years.
In her address Saturday, Yang also indirectly accused Columbia University, where Hadden practiced medicine, of using its "institutional influence and power to set up a plea bargain of the century."
Hadden's attorney and Columbia University Medical Center did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Hadden struck a plea deal with the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. that spared him any jail time. The same office argued for leniency over registering Jeffrey Epstein as a sex offender in 2011 and did not prosecute Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein after sexual abuse allegations surfaced in 2015.
"The victims in [the Hadden] case were thrown under a bus," Yang said. "We had no visibility as to the deal making, no real explanation and no justice."
In a statement, Vance said he stood by his handling of the accusations against Hadden.
"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," the statement read, in part. "While we stand by our legal analysis and resulting disposition of this difficult case, we regret that this resolution has caused survivors pain."
Andrew Yang,who is spending the weekend campaigning in Iowain preparation for the Feb. 3 state Democratic caucuses, said his wife's revelations have brought their family closer together. But he also said more needs to be done from a policy perspective to protect victims of sexual abuse.
"I'm so proud of my wife," he said. "She's the bravest woman I know and her giving voice to so many women who have experienced this kind of assault who've never been able to have a platform has been inspiring to me," he said.