Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's resignation occurred less than three hours after The New Yorker published detailed allegations of assault by four women. As New York State Public Radio Albany bureau chief Karen Dewitt read the story, she says, "I thought, he's only got a couple hours left."
In a conversation on WNYC this morning, Dewitt continued, "There was just never any hint... to certainly anyone that knew him in a professional capacity that there was violence involved... It's really bad... This is worse even than the Eliot Spitzer scandal, in the scheme of capitol scandals, and all the corruption with the former legislative leaders, people are so stunned by this."
One of the accusers, Manning Barish, told the New Yorker that one evening, after she and Schneiderman had been drinking and were getting ready for bed (while still clothed), "All of a sudden, he just slapped me, open-handed and with great force, across the face, landing the blow directly onto my ear. 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."
"He started his career escorting women to Planned Parenthood to protect them from protesters," said Dewitt. "And lately, he was suing Harvey Weinstein, he was speaking up on Twitter defending women who were coming out and revealing past sexual assault. So it just makes this even more shocking."
Laura McQuade, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of New York City, said, "All New Yorkers deserve elected officials who respect women and fight for their health and their rights-not only in the public sphere but in their private lives as well. We stand with the women who spoke up and shared their painful stories to prevent others from suffering the same fate. Planned Parenthood of New York City strongly condemns the reported behavior and hypocrisy displayed by A.G. Schneiderman. As reported, he has betrayed the values he swore to uphold. We denounce all forms of sexual harassment, abuse and violence, and will always stand with — and trust — women."
Now I’m going to have to wear the super hero cape I was going to make for Schneiderman.
— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) May 8, 2018
The bombshell New Yorker article, published on Monday evening, featured two women who spoke on the record and two speaking anonymously about Schneiderman's alleged alcoholism, pill habits, and abusive behavior. While Schneiderman denied ever assaulting anyone and insisted that he "engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity" strictly "in the privacy of intimate relationships," the article's harrowing details prompted public officials to demand that he step down.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said at 8:37 p.m. on Monday night, "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."
At 9:44 p.m., Schneiderman announced his resignation, saying Tuesday would be his last day, adding, "In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me. 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."
This morning, reporters are staked outside Schneiderman's Upper West Side apartment building. He is not going into his lower Manhattan office today, the Post reports.
— Andrew Siff (@andrewsiff4NY) May 8, 2018
Barbara Underwood, the state solicitor general, will be the acting AG until the State Legislature elects a new AG to serve through the November elections.
Jennifer Cunningham, a political consultant and Schneiderman's ex-wife, said, "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."
Mayor Bill de Blasio has not commented on the article or Schneiderman at all yet. (He has a press conference at 2 p.m. today.) NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, a fellow Upper West Sider, released a statement last night after the resignation, "I am shocked and deeply disturbed by the graphic reports of Attorney General Schneiderman's reprehensible violence. There is no place for this type of conduct in our society. Speaking out against those in power is painful and brave. I stand with the women who came forward. With the Attorney General's resignation behind us, we can move forward to ensure that our justice system continues to serve the people of New York."
The two named accusers, Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, issued statements after the article's publication. Barish tweeted, "After the most difficult month of my life-I spoke up. For my daughter and for all women. I could not remain silent and encourage other women to be brave for me. I could not."
Selvaratnam emphasized that Schneiderman's behavior was not consensual, "After I found out that other women had been abused by Attorney General Schneiderman in a similar manner many years before me, I wondered, who’s next, and knew something needed to be done. So I chose to come forward both to protect women who might enter into a relationship with him in the future but also to raise awareness around the issue of intimate partner violence."