New York’s attorney general Eric Schneiderman has resigned after being accused of physically abusing four women. Schneiderman, a 63-year-old Democrat, gained national prominence as a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement, speaking out publicly against sexual assault, harassment and “male supremacy.”
Schneiderman used his clout as New York’s leading law enforcement official to pursue a NY sexual assault lawsuit against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and his company, demanding in February that financial restitution for Weinstein’s victims be set aside in the Weinstein Company’s bankruptcy proceedings.
Learn more about Police sexual assault lawsuits here.
At the same time, Schneiderman’s work in propelling the siege against high-profile abusers has earned him cred across the liberal spectrum.
Left-leaning women’s groups have hailed Schneiderman as a “hero”; in May, the National Institute for Reproductive Health, a New York non-profit that advocates for expanded abortion and contraceptive rights, named Schneiderman among its three “Champions of Choice.” But four women, in an exclusive investigation reported by the New Yorker, say Schneiderman is a fraud.
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“His hypocrisy is epic,” says Michelle Manning Barish, who allowed the New Yorker to use her real name because she thinks stepping into the open could help empower other women. Alongside three other women, Barish told New Yorker reporters that consensual sexual relationships with Schneiderman quickly turned into non-consensual physical “assaults.”
The four women claim that the former attorney general “repeatedly hit them, often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent,” the New Yorker writes. Schneiderman hit, slapped and choked them, the women say, causing injuries that, at first, they were reluctant to report because, in the words of one alleged victim, Tanya Selvaratnam, the man “warned her he could have her followed and her phones tapped.”
Both Barish and Selvaratnam, who has also chosen to have her name published, say Schneiderman blackmailed them with death threats to keep them in non-consensual relationships.
Schneiderman denies these accusations. In a statement, reported by the New York Times, Schneiderman said, “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 nonconsensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”
Needless to say, the four women who spoke with the New Yorker have a very different perspective on events. Alongside physical abuse, the women, all of whom began their relationships with Schneiderman as consensual romantic partners, say that the former attorney general quickly became controlling and emotionally abusive.
“Taking a strong woman and tearing her to pieces is his jam,” says Manning Barish, a progressive political activist with ties to many of New York’s most prominent social players.
In particular, Schneiderman attempted to control her body, Manning Barish says. Soon after the two began dating, garnering headlines in the New York Post, Schneiderman instructed Manning Barish to have a small tattoo removed from her wrist, saying “it wasn’t appropriate […] if she were to become the wife of a politician.”
Over the next two years, during which Manning Barish and Schneiderman dated off-and-on, she says the attorney general would frequently critique her appearance, even coming to control what she ate. And Schneiderman drank, a lot, up to two bottles of wine, topped off with a bottle of Scotch in bed, every night.
Schneiderman turned violent, Manning Barish says, about four weeks after they began having sex. He would call her a “whore” during sexual encounters, punctuating their liaisons with non-consensual slaps, hits and choking.
Perversely, Schneiderman worked in 2010, when he served as a State Senator for New York, to pass a bill to institute specific criminal penalties against people who choke others. Strangulation is a “common prelude to domestic-violence homicides,” the New Yorker writes.
During each encounter, Manning Barish says, though she tried to resist the man’s alleged violence, Schneiderman forced himself on her. “I want to make it absolutely clear,” Manning Barish told reporters, “this was under no circumstances a sex game gone wrong […] it was completely unexpected and shocking. I did not consent to physical assault.”
As New York’s top attorney, Schneiderman’s position hung over their relationship like a black cloud, according to Manning Barish. One one occasion, when she objected to Schneiderman “yanking” her across the street, Manning Barish said, “jaywalking is against the law.” Schneiderman responded, Manning Barish says, “I am the law.”
At least three other women have echoed the claims leveled by Manning Barish. One woman, whose identity has not been released, joined Schneiderman for an “after-party” in the Hamptons one night. But when she arrived at the party’s location, only Schneiderman was there. They started making out, but Schneiderman’s comments disturbed her.
The woman says Schneiderman became abusive, saying “yeah, you act a certain way and look a certain way, but I know that at heart you are a dirty little slut. You want to be my whore.” Then, he slapped her “across the face hard, twice,” the woman remembers. She screamed, yelled at Schneiderman and began sobbing. Schneiderman, who was unbelievably drunk the woman says, drove her home.
Schneiderman vehemently denies these horrific allegations, but soon after the New Yorker published its report on May 7, calls for the attorney general’s resignation grew. He stepped down from his position a day later. In a brief statement published on the New York Attorney General website, Schneiderman wrote:
“It’s been my great honor and privilege to serve as Attorney General for the people of the State of New York. In the last several hours, serious allegations which I strongly contest, have been made against me. 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. I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018.”