Eric Schneiderman Resigns Hours After Four Women Accuse Him of Violence

“It’s been my great honor and privilege to serve as attorney general for the people of the state of New York,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement Monday night, resigning hours after four women—two on the record—accused him of violence and abuse in an article published in The New Yorker.

One of the women, Harvard-educated writer and filmmaker Tanya Selvaratnam, told The New Yorker that she dated Schneiderman for a year, during which he was sexually abusive.

“Sometimes, he’d tell me to call him ‘master,’ and he’d slap me until I did,” she said. “He started calling me his ‘brown slave’ and demanding that I repeat that I was ‘his property.’”

“The slaps started after we’d gotten to know each other,” she added, noting that the hitting “wasn’t consensual” nor "sexual playacting,” but “abusive, demeaning, threatening behavior.”

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

But the women who spoke to The New Yorker did not see it that way. Another woman, Michelle Manning Barish, also said that Schneiderman habitually hit her after drinking, in bed and without her consent. The article quoted two other women who were not named, describing the same pattern of behavior.

The story was published less than a week after reports that Schneiderman, at the urging of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, would appoint a special deputy to investigate Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s handling of allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

Also last week, Schneiderman was named a “Champion of Choice” by the New York–based National Institute for Reproductive Health. "We are appalled and horrified to learn about the violent behavior ascribed to Eric Schneiderman. This is especially disappointing given his long history of advocacy and action in support of women’s rights," the NIRH said in a statement Monday night. "We believe it is our collective duty to trust women. It takes extraordinary courage to come forward with allegations of this magnitude—we hope they are taken seriously and that justice is served."

Schneiderman has also been a vocal and active anti-Trump attorney general, and his office has repeatedly filed legal challenges to Trump administration activities, including the travel ban. He has also often been regarded as a legal backup to special counsel Robert Mueller in case Trump pardons campaign staff, friends or possibly family for federal charges. The president cannot pardon state charges.

After the story was published, Cuomo and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand called for him to resign.

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

Under state law, the New York State Legislature will pick a replacement.