NY attorney general resigns after 4 women accuse him of abuse
NEW YORK - The Associated Press
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who held himself out as a champion of women and a liberal foil to President Donald Trump, resigned from office after four women accused him of physical violence during intimate encounters.
It was a swift and stunning fall for a Democrat who had pledged to use the power of his office to hold others accountable for abusing their power.
In accounts published in The New Yorker on May 7, the women described being violently slapped and choked, verbally abused and threatened by Schneiderman. Some also described him as a heavy drinker.
The abuse often happened during what were supposed to be romantic encounters, but the women said the violence was not consensual.
Schneiderman, 63, issued a statement to The New Yorker, and later to other media outlets, implying that his conduct was either welcomed by the women, or was not as they described.
“In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity. I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in non-consensual sex, which is a line I would not cross,” he said.
But after fellow Democrats in New York, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, called for his resignation, he capitulated quickly.
“In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me,” he said in a statement late on May 7.
“While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time.”
He said he would resign at the close of business on May 8.
Two women who spoke to The New Yorker on the record, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, both said the physical abuse escalated over time. The Associated Press is identifying the women because they agreed to tell their stories publicly.
Schneiderman has been a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement. He filed a lawsuit in February against disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein and the Weinstein Co. following an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.
Schneiderman said the company broke New York law by failing to protect employees from “pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation and discrimination.”
He launched a civil rights probe into the New York City-based company in October after The New York Times and The New Yorker exposed allegations of sexual assault and harassment spanning decades. The company later fired Weinstein.
The women accusing him said seeing him speak out on these issues was part of what prompted them to come forward.