WASHINGTON — New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, an outspoken figure in the #MeToo movement, abruptly announced his resignation Monday night, hours after The New Yorker reported four women had accused him of physical abuse.
The magazine reported allegations by the women, including that Schneiderman, 63, had slapped and choked them — often in bed after drinking — without their permission.
“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.”
Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, two of the four women who told The New Yorker they had had romantic relationships or encounters with Scheinderman, spoke to the magazine on the record. The two others chose to remain anonymous.
Manning Barish told the magazine she was romantically involved with Schneiderman from the summer of 2013 until New Year’s Day 2015; Selvaratnam, from summer 2016 until fall 2017.
Both said they had sought medical treatment because of physical abuse but did not report it to police.
The two women both told the magazine Schneiderman had threatened to kill them if they broke up with him.
And Selvaratnam told The New Yorker Schneiderman also had threatened that he could have her phones tapped or have her followed.
A spokesperson for Schneiderman, who is divorced, told the magazine he “never made any of those threats.”
Manning Barish offered a chilling account of an assault that she said occurred in Scheiderman’s Upper West Side apartment about a month after she began dating him.
“All of a sudden, he just slapped me, open-handed and with great force, across the face, landing the blow directly onto my ear,” Manning Barish told the magazine.
“It was horrendous. It just came out of nowhere. My ear was ringing. I lost my balance and fell backward onto the bed. I sprang up, but at this point, there was very little room between the bed and him. I got up to try to shove him back, or take a swing, and he pushed me back down. He then used his body weight to hold me down, and he began to choke me. The choking was very hard. It was really bad. I kicked. In every fiber, I felt I was being beaten by a man.”
The magazine reported that one of the two women who requested anonymity had told Manning Barish and Selvaratnam that Schneiderman had repeatedly subjected her to physical violence but that she feared him too much to come forward. The New Yorker reported it had independently vetted the anonymous woman’s allegations.
Another woman who remained anonymous told the magazine that when she resisted an advance from Schneiderman, he slapped her across the face so hard that a mark remained the next day.
Schneiderman, a Democrat and vociferous critic of the Trump administration, called the physical abuse consensual.
“In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity,” he said in a statement. “I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in nonconsensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”
The New York Police Department released a statement Monday night saying it had no record of complaints against Schneiderman.
His impending resignation marks the precipitous downfall of the second-term attorney general elected in 2010. He had been a vocal advocate for women’s rights seen as a rising star in the Democratic party.
Scheinderman’s office had filed a civil rights lawsuit in February against movie producer Harvey Weinstein, who numerous women say assaulted or attempted to assault them.
Scheinderman’s announcement Monday night came after calls by New York Republican and Democrats for his resignation following publication of The New Yorker story.
“No one is above the law, including New York’s top legal officer,” Democratic New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement. “I will be asking an appropriate New York District Attorney to commence an immediate investigation, and proceed as the facts merit.”
And the New York Republican party tweeted after The New Yorker article appeared: “It’s clear Eric has no place holding any public office, let alone as the state’s #1 law enforcement officer. He must resign immediately.”