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N.Y. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Accused of Physical Abuse by Four Women

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has pursued sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein, resigned just hours after he was accused of physical violence by four women.

Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam told The New Yorker that Schneiderman allegedly hit them multiple times, frequently after drinking. Manning Barish and Selvaratnam referred to the attorney general’s actions as “assault.” Both women said they never reported the allegations to the police, but did receive medical attention for their injuries.

“In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “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 his resignation will be effective at the end of the business day on Tuesday.

His departure followed New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s call for him to step down.

“I will be asking an appropriate New York District Attorney to commence an immediate investigation, and proceed as the facts merit,” said Cuomo, Schneiderman’s predecessor. “My personal opinion is that, given the damning pattern of facts and corroboration laid out in the article, I do not believe it is possible for Eric Schneiderman to continue to serve as Attorney General, and for the good of the office, he should resign.”

Selvaratnam told The New Yorker that Schneiderman warned her that he could have her followed and her phones tapped. Both claim he threatened to kill them if they ended the relationship.

The New Yorker fact-checked the information provided by a third former romantic partner of Schneiderman’s, who alleges she was subjected to physical violence, although she is “too frightened of him to come forward.” The fourth woman accuses Schneiderman of hitting her face when she refused his advances.

In response to the allegations, a representative for Schneiderman initially sent a statement to Variety that 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 non-consensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”

Variety also was given a comment from Jennifer Cunningham, Schneiderman’s ex-wife, addressing the allegations. The statement said, “I’ve known Eric for nearly 35 years as a husband, father, and friend. These allegations are completely inconsistent with the man I know, who has always been someone of the highest character, outstanding values and a loving father. I find it impossible to believe these allegations are true.”

Manning Barish dated Schneiderman from the summer of 2013 through New Year’s Day of 2015. According to the New Yorker story, reported by Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow, Schneiderman first attacked her about a month into their relationship. She said he smacked her across the face, knocking her onto the bed. She then tried to get up, but he put his weight on her and choked her.

“It was really bad,” Manning Barish told the New Yorker. “I kicked. In every fibre, I felt I was being beaten by a man.”

She said that they dated off and on for nearly two years. Often during sex, she said he would smack her across the face. She also alleged that Schneiderman would demean her and belittle her political activity.

Manning Barish tweeted the New Yorker story on Monday, saying “After the most difficult month of my life — I spoke up. For my daughter and for all women. I could not remain silent and encourage other women to be brave for me. I could not.”

Selvaratnam dated Schneiderman from the summer of 2016 to the fall of 2017. According to her account, Schneiderman became increasingly violent in bed, often smacking her, choking her, or calling her his “slave.” She described him as a “misogynist and a sexual sadist.”

Schneiderman sued Weinstein and the Weinstein Co. in February, alleging that the company had fostered a climate of sexual harassment for years. Schneiderman has pressed for a fund to compensate Weinstein’s victims and changes in the company’s HR practices.

“We have never seen anything as despicable as what we have seen here,” Schneiderman said at the time.

Ben Brafman, Weinstein’s attorney, declined to comment, saying, “Harvey and I do not feel it would be appropriate for us to comment on this development.”

Schneiderman has been a prominent Democratic figure in opposing President Donald Trump’s policies. In October, just after he launched the Weinstein Co. investigation, he raised money for his reelection effort at WME Entertainment.

He was a leader among state attorneys general challenging the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality rules, and earlier on Monday announced an action to challenge moves by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to limit the use of scientific evidence in rulemaking. Schneiderman also engaged in a lengthy legal battle over allegations of fraud by Trump University. The case was settled for $25 million.


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