- The Washington Times - Monday, May 7, 2018

New York’s Democratic attorney-general resigned Monday just hours after becoming the latest high-profile public figure who embraced the #MeToo movement to be accused of abusing women.

In a statement Monday night, Eric Schneiderman said that he disputed the charges of what the New Yorker called “nonconsensual physical violence” by four women, but he could no longer function in office.

“In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me,” he said.

“While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operation of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time. I therefore resign my office,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

The resignation, which takes effect at the end of business Tuesday, came shortly after a lengthy and detailed story was published earlier Monday evening in the New Yorker.

It accused him of abusing four women, two of whom the magazine named and two of whom it did not.

Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam “allege that he repeatedly hit them, often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent,” read the report by Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow.

The two named women said they did not report the abuse to the police, though they did have to seek medical attention at the time “after having been slapped hard across the ear and face, and also choked.”

Ms. Selvaratnam told the New Yorker that Mr. Schneiderman threatened her with being followed and wire-tapped. Both she and Ms. Manning Barish “say that he threatened to kill them if they broke up with him.”

The article quickly dissolved the Democrat’s political support. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement before Mr. Schneiderman resigned that he should do that “for the good of the office.”

“No one is above the law, including New York’s top legal officer,” the statement said. “I will be asking an appropriate New York District Attorney(s) to commence an immediate investigation, and proceed as the facts” merit.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New York Democrat, had spoken similarly in a statement, calling the reported behavior “abhorrent” and saying “I do not believe that Eric Schneiderman should continue to serve as Attorney General.”

Mr. Schneiderman was an early champion of #MeToo, having taken steps to punish film producer Harvey Weinstein and sending a congratulatory tweet to the New York Times for winning a Pulitzer Prize for its ground-breaking stories on the movie mogul.

Among the tweets coming back to haunt Mr. Schneiderman is this one, posted by him last Oct. 11: “No one is above the law, and I’ll continue to remind President Trump and his administration of that fact everyday.”

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Twitter of the New Yorker article about Mr. Schneiderman: “Allegations are harrowing. Violence against women. Drunk with power. It’s so tough to read you must.”

Mr. Schneiderman has been a vocal critic of Mr. Trump, having sued him for fraud over the now-defunct Trump University and helping to secure a $25 million settlement.

All told, he had taken more than 100 actions to challenge the administration in the past 15 months, ranging from lawsuits and friend of the court briefs, to requests that the state legislature and/or bureaucracies take steps to frustrate Mr. Trump’s actions.

The New Yorker described the third complainant as a friend of the two named women who told them of similar behavior. According to the New Yorker, the woman “is too frightened of him to come forward.” The magazine said it had “independently vetted the accounts that they gave of her allegations.”

The fourth woman is an “attorney who has held prominent positions in the New York legal community.” According to the New Yorker, “Schneiderman made an advance toward her; when she rebuffed him, he slapped her across the face with such force that it left a mark that lingered the next day … [she] shared a photograph of the injury” with the reporters.

Mr. Schneiderman had told the New Yorker in a statement prior to publication and his resignation that any violent behavior was consensual.

“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,” he said.

Ms. Manning Barish said about one incident in which, she says Mr. Schneiderman slapped her and choked her, that “I want to make it absolutely clear. This was under no circumstances a sex game gone wrong. This did not happen while we were having sex. I was fully dressed and remained that way. It was completely unexpected and shocking. I did not consent to physical assault.”

Both Ms. Manning Barish and Ms. Selvaratnam said they were upset by seeing the attorney-general getting out front on the Weinstein case and similar matters, knowing what they did about his conduct.

Ms. Selvaratnam called him “a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” figure and said the feminist accolades of him made her “feel sick.”

Ms. Manning Barish told the New Yorker: “you cannot be a champion of women when you are hitting them and choking them in bed, and saying to them, ‘You’re a f—ing whore.’”

The New Yorker cited a high-profile character witness for Ms. Manning Barish — novelist Salman Rushdie.

Mr. Rushdie dated Ms. Manning Barish before Mr. Schneiderman did and remained friends with her. Not only did he say his ex-girlfriend as “a very truthful person in my experience,” but he said she had told him of the abuse at the time.

“She called me and told me he had hit her,” Mr. Rushdie recalled. “She was obviously very upset” and he advised her to leave Mr. Schneiderman.

Last month, Mr. Schneiderman tweeted that “Without the reporting of the @nytimes and the @newyorker — and the brave women and men who spoke up about the sexual harassment they endured at the hands of powerful men — there would not be the critical national reckoning underway.”

• Dave Boyer and Alex Swoyer contributed to this report.

• Victor Morton can be reached at vmorton@washingtontimes.com.

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