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Former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman built a brand around championing progressive causes -- from women's rights to railing against the Trump administration. Image via Lonnie Tague/Department of Justice. Image claimed as public domain.

Prosecutors in different jurisdictions will investigate the assault allegations which forced New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman out of office.

Schneiderman, who’d cast himself as a champion of women’s rights and staunch opponent to the Trump administration, was accused of violently attacking several former partners. The four women, speaking to The New Yorker, described the attorney general’s tendencies to choke, spit and slap as ‘assault.’

The attacks, they claim, occurred during sexual intercourse and around the house – never, the women stress, with their implicit or spoken consent. One of Schneiderman’s ex-girlfriends, author and activist Tanya Selvaratnam, said she was threatened with death for contemplating a break-up. Another, Manning Barish, recounted similar instances of physical and verbal abuse.

Another two women, who The New Yorker claims chose to remain anonymous, corroborated Barish and Selvaratnam’s accounts and added their own. A third partner – whose story was purportedly vetted by the magazine – says she was too frightened of Schneiderman to come forward.

And a fourth woman, described as a prominent New York attorney, says the attorney general slapped her so hard for rejecting an advance that a mark ‘lingered’ on her face through the next day.

The former high-powered prosecutor, who resigned just hours after the allegations were published, “strongly contests” the accusations levied against him.

“In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity,” said Schneiderman in a statement republished by The New Yorker. “I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in nonconsensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”

Schneiderman has, in fact, built a brand around touting progressive causes. The former attorney general filed a civil rights lawsuit against producer Harvey Weinstein after reports of the Hollywood executive’s exploitative history broke.

New York AG Eric Schneiderman; image by Kelly Campbell www.kellycampbellphoto.com, The Office of Jerry Nadler, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons, no changes.
Former New York AG Eric Schneiderman; image by Kelly Campbell www.kellycampbellphoto.com, The Office of Jerry Nadler, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons, no changes.

“We have never seen anything as despicable as what we’ve seen right here,” said Schneiderman, condemning Weinstein at an open press conference.

He also spearheaded an effort to investigate the handling of criminal complaints against Weinstein by the Manhattan district attorney and New York Police Department.

The attorney general’s activism was enough to win him praise from feminist councils and advocacy groups. The New York-based National Institute for Reproductive Health honored Schneiderman with its ‘Champions of Choice’ award scarcely a week ago – a decision which bothered Barish, who said, “You cannot be a champion of women when you are hitting them and choking them in bed, and saying to them, ‘You’re a fucking whore.’”

Selvaratnam, who dated Schneiderman from 2015 to 2016, described Schneiderman as “a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde figure.”

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

In response to the charges being fired off at Schneiderman by several of his former partners, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that a special prosecutor will be brought in to investigate the allegations. And, on Tuesday, Cuomo named Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas as special prosecutor and special deputy attorney general.

Schneiderman has so far denied the allegations of abuse, claiming only to have indulged in role-play. His ex-wife, Jennifer Cunningham, said the accounts of violence “are completely inconsistent with the man I know.”

The New Yorker story led directly to the attorney general’s decision to resign.

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

Sources

Four Women Accuse New York’s Attorney General of Physical Abuse

New York Gov. Cuomo appoints special prosecutor to investigate former Attorney General Schneiderman

New York Today: The Latest on Eric Schneiderman

NY prosecutors to investigate assault allegations against Eric Schneiderman

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