New York

N.Y. AG Eric Schneiderman Resigns Amid Abuse Allegations

NEW YORK (CBSNews) — New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has resigned Monday night amid an explosive report that he had been accused by four women of physically abusing them.

Schneiderman wrote in a statement: “Its 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 offices work at this critical time. I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018.”

Earlier, a statement from Schniederman said: “I have never engaged in non-consensual sex, which is a line I would not cross,” he said through an outside spokesman. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement in light of “the damning pattern of facts and corroboration” in the article and urged Schneiderman to resign.

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The statement comes in response to a story in The New Yorker which includes two women speaking on the record. The women “accuse Schneiderman of having subjected them to nonconsensual physical violence. All have been reluctant to speak out, fearing reprisal. But two of the women, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, have talked to The New Yorker on the record, because they feel that doing so could protect other women.”

Schneiderman said Monday night that he has “engaged in role-playing and other consensual activity” but that he has “not assaulted anyone.”

Statement from Eric T. Schneiderman:

"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."

— Eric T. Schneiderman (@Schneiderman) May 7, 2018

The New Yorker reports that Schneiderman “repeatedly hit them, often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent,” according to the women.

The report says the women didnt come forward with their allegations at the time, but that Barish and Selvaratnam sought medical attention for what they categorize as “assault.” They describe being slapped hard across the ear and face and choked.

Selvaratnam issued a statement through a spokesperson Monday night in response to the report to reiterate the abuse was not consensual.

“After I found out that other women had been abused by Attorney General Schneiderman in a similar manner many years before me, I wondered, whos next, and knew something needed to be done,” the statement read. “So I chose to come forward both to protect women who might enter into a relationship with him in the future but also to raise awareness around the issue of intimate partner violence.”

The magazine wrote about a third woman who was romantically involved with Schneiderman and apparently told her story to the two other women, but was frightened to come forward. The fourth woman said the attorney general slapped her when she rebuffed him — and asked to remain anonymous. The New Yorker wrote that it confirmed the third womans accusations and viewed a picture of what the fourth woman claims was her injury.

Cuomo issued a statement through a spokesperson in response to The New Yorker article saying “no one is above the law, including New Yorks top legal officer” and will commence an immediate investigation. “I do not believe it is possible for Eric Schnedierman to continue to serve as attorney general, and for the good of the office, he should resign.”

Schneiderman has been an outspoken supporter of the #MeToo movement, filing a lawsuit in February against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and the Weinstein Company over allegations of widespread sexual harassment and misconduct.

Schneiderman launched a civil rights probe into the New York City-based Weinstein 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.

Jennifer Cunningham, Schneidermans ex-wife, said in a statement provided by Schneidermans representative Monday night that the “allegations are inconsistent with the man I know.”

“Ive known Eric for nearly 35 years as a husband, father and friend,” she said. “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.”

Selvaratnam told The New Yorker she thinks of Schneiderman as “a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” figure. It made her “feel sick” that he prided himself “on being a champion for women publicly.” She said that he needed to be “called out.”

(© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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