The attorney suing Harvey Weinstein has also been accused of sexually assaulting women
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who recently filed a civil suit against Harvey Weinstein, has himself been accused of physically abusing women.
Four women have alleged that Schneiderman assaulted them within the contexts of their romantic relationships and encounters.
The accusers include Michelle Manning Barish, a blogger and political activist who was in a relationship with Schneiderman on and off from 2013 to 2015; Tanya Selvaratnam, an author and activist who was with him from 2016 to 2017; an unnamed lawyer who had an encounter with him in 2016; and an unnamed former girlfriend.
The allegations were revealed in a bombshell report published by The New Yorker and written by Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow (the latter of whom helped break news of Weinstein’s crimes last year, also in The New Yorker). New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has called on Schneiderman to resign following the report.
“My personal opinion is that, given the damning pattern of facts and corroboration laid out in the article, I do not believe it is possible for Eric Schneiderman to continue to serve as Attorney General, and for the good of the office, he should resign,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Schneiderman, for his part, has denied the accusations.
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
While the specifics vary from account to account, some troubling commonalities have emerged. The women speak of controlling and abusive behavior from Schneiderman, sometimes after instances of heavy drinking on his part.
The women describe being slapped and choked – sometimes non-consensually within a sexual context – as well as verbally threatened, called names like “whore” and “slut,” and, in some cases, pressured to drink.
They also mention a tendency of Schneiderman’s to see himself as somehow above the law. Manning Barish recalls an instance in which he said, “I am the law,” and added, “If there is a sentence that sums him up, it’s that.”
The allegations against Schneiderman are especially disturbing given his involvement with feminist causes and prominence in the #MeToo movement.
In February, Schneiderman brought a civil rights lawsuit against Weinstein, Robert Weinstein, and The Weinstein Company for “egregious violations of New York’s civil rights, human rights, and business laws,” including several accounts of sexual harassment from his employees.
He has also, at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s behest, launched an investigation into the handling of a 2015 sexual assault allegation against Weinstein by Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and the New York City Police Department.
Schneiderman has been honored by women’s groups like the National Institute for Reproductive Health, and won praise for helping to draft legislation like a 2010 bill that specifically penalized choking. “I think this will save a lot of lives,” he said at the time.
Guilt, shame, and fear kept these women quiet for a while. However, keeping these secrets became harder and harder as Schneiderman continued to burnish his reputation as a hero of the #MeToo movement.
As Selvaratnam put it, “This is a man who has staked his entire career, his personal narrative, on being a champion for women publicly. But he abuses them privately. He needs to be called out.”