New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, known as a defender of women’s rights, resigned his post after allegations of physical abuse by four women were reported in an article in the New Yorker magazine.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks during a news conference in New York, Tuesday, April 3, 2018.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks during a news conference in New York, Tuesday, April 3, 2018. (AP Archive)

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned on Monday after allegations of physical abuse by four women were reported in an article in the New Yorker magazine.

Governor Andrew Cuomo called for Schneiderman's resignation within hours of the article's publication.

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

'I have not assaulted anyone'

The two women who spoke on the record, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, both said the physical abuse escalated over time, and that Schneiderman also was a heavy drinker. 

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.

Asked for comment, Schneiderman, a Democrat, issued a statement to The New Yorker saying, "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."

His representatives sent the same statement to The Associated Press when asked about the accusations. They also sent a statement from his ex-wife, Jennifer Cunningham, who 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."

A #MeToo supporter

Schneiderman has been a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement. He filed a lawsuit in February against movie producer Harvey Weinstein and the Weinstein Co. 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."

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

The women accusing him said seeing him speak out on sexual misconduct issues was part of the impetus in them coming 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."

Source: AP