New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, quits amid assault claims

Schneiderman quickly resigned after four women publicly accused him of physically assaulting them while in a romantic relationship 

Eric Schneiderman, New York Attorney General
Eric Schneiderman, New York Attorney General

New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, resigned on Monday night after four women publicly accused him of physically assault on the New Yorker.

Schneiderman rose to national prominence for being a vocal critic against the Trump administration, and a high-profile figure in the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.

“In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me,” Schneiderman said in a statement Monday night.

“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.”

Two women spoke on the record to the magazine, saying Schneiderman repeatedly hit them during the course of their relationships with him in recent years, and never with their consent. Neither woman filed any police complaints, but both said they sought out medical attention and confided in people close to them about the abuse.

A third woman who also was involved with him told her story to the other two women, but said she was too frightened to come forward. A fourth woman said Schneiderman slapped her when she rebuffed him, but also asked to remain unidentified. The New Yorker said it vetted the third woman’s allegations, and saw a photo of what the fourth woman said was her injury.

Following the publication of the story, Barish wrote on Twitter: "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..."

Shortly after the New Yorker published its article, the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, called for Schneiderman to resign.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement: "No one is above the law, including New York's top legal officer."

"I will be asking an appropriate New York District Attorney to commence an immediate investigation, and proceed as the facts merit," Cuomo said.

Schneiderman, a Democrat who had been running for re-election, said he would step down at the close of business on Tuesday.

In a statement before his resignation, he acknowledged that "In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity," but added, "I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in non-consensual sex, which is a line I would not cross."

Previously Schneiderman filed a lawsuit in February against movie producer Harvey Weinstein and the Weinstein Company following an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct, saying the company broke New York law by failing to protect employees from “pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation and discrimination”.

The women accusing him said seeing him speak out on sexual misconduct issues was part of what prompted them to come forward.

“This is a man who has staked his entire career, his personal narrative, on being a champion for women publicly,” Selvaratnam said. “But he abuses them privately. He needs to be called out.”

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