New York Attorney General and Weinstein Foe Resigns Amid Assault Allegations

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Serious - Getty - H 2018
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Four women alleged that Eric Schneiderman assaulted them in a recent New Yorker exposé.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office is currently handling a lawsuit against The Weinstein Co. and a civil rights suit against Harvey Weinstein himself, has resigned following a damning exposé in The New Yorker, written by Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow, which detailed accusations by four women of sexual misconduct and physical abuse.

“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," Schneiderman wrote 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. I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018.”

Earlier Monday evening, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called for an investigation into the claims after the story was published. "No one is above the law, including New York's top legal officer," he said in a statement. Cuomo went on to call for Schneiderman's resignation, saying it would be for the "good of the office."

In the New Yorker story, four women claim that Schneiderman had physically and verbally abused them. Two of the women gave their names, while the others remained anonymous.

Michelle Manning Barish, who was involved in a romantic relationship with Schneiderman from 2013-2015, claims that the attorney general "slapped [her] hard across the ear and face," "choked" her and referred to her as a "fucking whore." 

Tanya Selvaratnam, an author, dated Schneiderman from 2016-2017, and similarly claims that the AG slapped her, saying it "wasn't consensual" and that it escalated to him slapping her repeatedly, back and forth, choking her and spitting on her. "He was cutting off my ability to breathe,” Selvaratnam told The New Yorker. "We could rarely have sex without him beating me.”

Selvaratnam claims that Schneiderman threatened to tap her phones and have her followed, though he denied the claims. She went on to describe Schneiderman as a "misogynist and a sexual sadist."

In the piece, Selvaratnam also said that watching Schneiderman publicly champion the #MeToo movement has made her "feel sick," and that she experienced him as "a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" kind of man. "He needs to be called out," she told the magazine.

After ending her relationship with Schneiderman, Selvaratnam reached out to other former girlfriends of the attorney general. She heard similar stories of physical and emotional abuse, and they echoed sentiments that Schneiderman’s involvement in the #MeToo movement was “shameless.”

Schneiderman denied the allegations in a statement to The New Yorker: “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.”

The women did not file police reports, but Selvaratnam told the magazine that she considered filing ethics complaints or civil suits against Schneiderman but did not because the the "various legal options she considered were always connected to Schneiderman in some way.”

Schneiderman has been at his post as attorney general since 2011. His office filed a lawsuit in February alleging TWC violated New York civil rights, human rights and business laws.

The suit claims TWC engaged in "a years-long gender-based hostile work environment, a pattern of quid pro quo sexual harassment, and routine misuse of corporate resources for unlawful ends that extended from in or about 2005 through at least in or about October 2017."

In April, Schneiderman told The Hollywood Reporter of his investigation into TWC, "Our investigation is focused largely on corporate malfeasance and a hostile work environment. Sex abuse and harassment is a form of sex discrimination. And our Civil Rights Bureau has looked at big companies before with hostile work environments."

Schneiderman also sued Donald Trump on claims that he had defrauded students via his real estate investing program Trump University. Trump settled the case shortly after the presidential election for $25 million. 

May 7, 6:48 p.m. Updated with Gov. Cuomo's statement.
May 7, 7:05 p.m. Updated with Schneider's resignation.