The New Yorker reported on Monday night that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat who filed a civil rights lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein and the Weinstein Company after Weinstein’s pattern of alleged abuse became public, has allegedly been abusive to multiple women himself.
Two women—Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam—went on the record with their allegations. Manning Barish told the magazine that after they started dating, Schneiderman told her to remove a wrist tattoo, as it “wouldn’t be appropriate for the wife of a politician.” “Taking a strong woman and tearing her to pieces is his jam,” she told the New Yorker. Soon afterwards, Schneiderman allegedly hit her:
About four weeks after they became physically involved, she says, Schneiderman grew violent. One night, they were in the bedroom of his Upper West Side apartment, still clothed but getting ready for bed, and lightly baiting each other. As she recalls it, he called her “a whore,” and she talked back. They had both been drinking, and her recollection of their conversation is blurry, but what happened next remains vivid. Schneiderman, she says, backed her up to the edge of his bed. “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 says. “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 fibre, I felt I was being beaten by a man.”
Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow, the reporters, also note that as a state senator, Schneiderman was behind a law that created specific penalties for choking someone. “I cannot fathom that someone who drafted the legislation on strangulation is unfamiliar with such concepts,” domestic violence legal expert Jennifer Friedman told the New Yorker.
Manning Barish also told Mayer and Farrow that Schneiderman threatened her after allegations went public against now former U.S. Sen. Al Franken:
Since the #MeToo movement began, Manning Barish has been active on social-media platforms, cheering on women who have spoken out, including those whose accusations prompted the resignation of the Minnesota senator Al Franken, a widely admired Democrat. Once, she made an oblique reference to Schneiderman on social media, in connection with a political issue. He called her and, in a tone that she describes as “nasty,” said, “Don’t ever write about me. You don’t want to do that.” Manning Barish says that she took his remarks as a threat, just as she took seriously a comment that he’d once made after she objected to him “yanking” her across a street. She recalls saying to him, “Jaywalking is against the law,” and him responding, “I am the law.” Manning Barish says, “If there is a sentence that sums him up, it’s that.”
Manning Barish and Schneiderman reportedly ended their relationship in 2015. Tanya Selvaratnam, an author, actor, and progressive activist who says she met Schneiderman at the 2016 Democratic National Convention and then began dating him, told the New Yorker yet another similar story:
Schneiderman not only slapped her across the face, often four or five times, back and forth, with his open hand; he also spat at her and choked her. “He was cutting off my ability to breathe,” she says. Eventually, she says, “we could rarely have sex without him beating me.” In her view, Schneiderman “is a misogynist and a sexual sadist.” She says that she often asked him to stop hurting her, and tried to push him away. At other times, she gave in, rationalizing that she could tolerate the violence if it happened only once a week or so during sex. But “the emotional and verbal abuse started increasing,” she says, and “the belittling and demeaning of me carried over into our nonsexual encounters.” He told her to get plastic surgery to remove scars on her torso that had resulted from an operation to remove cancerous tumors. He criticized her hair and said that she should get breast implants and buy different clothes. He mocked some of her friends as “ditzes,” and, when these women attended a birthday celebration for her, he demanded that she leave just as the cake was arriving. “I began to feel like I was in Hell,” she says.
Schneiderman’s alleged abuse of Selvaratnam also had a racial element to it. “Sometimes, he’d tell me to call him Master, and he’d slap me until I did.” the Sri Lankan-born Selvaratnam told the New Yorker. “He started calling me his ‘brown slave’ and demanding that I repeat that I was ‘his property.’”
A third woman, who isn’t named in the story but is referred to as an “accomplished Ivy League-educated lawyer with government experience,” has a similar story:
The lawyer and Schneiderman began making out, but he said things that repelled her. He told the woman, a divorced mother, that professional women with big jobs and children had so many decisions to make that, when it came to sex, they secretly wanted men to take charge. She recalls him saying, “Yeah, you act a certain way and look a certain way, but I know that at heart you are a dirty little slut. You want to be my whore.” He became more sexually aggressive, but she was repulsed by his talk, and pulled away from him. She says that “suddenly—at least, in my mind’s eye—he drew back, and there was a moment where I was, like, ‘What’s happening?’ ” Then, she recalls, “He slapped me across the face hard, twice,” adding, “I was stunned.
Schneiderman hit her so hard, she says, that the blow left a red handprint. “What the fuck did you just do?” she screamed, and started to sob. “I couldn’t believe it,” she recalls. “For a split second, I was scared.” She notes that, in all her years of dating, she has never been in a situation like the one with Schneiderman. “He just really smacked me,” she says.
She then reportedly demanded Schneiderman drive her home, and as he did, she realized he was intoxicated, telling the magazine that New York’s attorney general “broke the law at least once that night.” (Schneiderman’s spokesperson told the New Yorker: “This is untrue.”)
A fourth woman reportedly told both Selvaratnam and Manning Barish that “she is too frightened of [Schneiderman] to come forward.” Selvaratnam told the New Yorker that Schneiderman implied that he could have her followed and tap her phone, and both Selvaratnam and Manning Barish reportedly told the New Yorker that Schneiderman “threatened to kill them if they broke up with him.” Schneiderman’s spokesperson told the New Yorker that he “never made any of these threats.”
In response to the article, Schneiderman’s spokesperson sent two statements to Splinter, one from the attorney general and another from his ex-wife, Jennifer Cunningham. “In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity,” Schneiderman said in a statement to Splinter. “I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in non-consensual sex, which is I line I would not cross.”
“I’ve known Eric for nearly 35 years as a husband, father and friend. These allegations are completely inconsistent with the man I know, who has always been someone of the highest character, outstanding values and a loving father. I find it impossible to believe these allegations are true,” Cunningham said.
Update, 10:05 PM ET: Schneiderman has resigned.