Eric Schneiderman, the former attorney general for New York, was long a liberal Democratic backer of women’s rights. He recently became a central figure in the #MeToo movement that has fought sexual harassment. As the highest ranking law enforcement officer in New York, Schneiderman, 63, used his authority to take action against Harvey Weinstein and to demand more compensation for the victims of his many alleged sex crimes.
In April 2018, then the New York Times and the New Yorker were awarded a joint Pulitzer Prize for covering sexual harassment, Schneiderman issued a tweet of congratulations, praising the brave people of both genders who spoke up about sexual harassment that they had endured from powerful men.
But as it turns out, Schneiderman is facing his own legal troubles of sexual assault. As his voice has become more prominent about sexual misconduct of other men, four women he had romantic relationships with in the past have spoken up about his. They have accused him of engaging in non consensual physical violence against them. All of them have been afraid to speak out on the record because they fear reprisals.
But two of them, Michelle Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, spoke to the New Yorker on the record recently. They felt if they did it, it could protect other women. Both women alleged that Schneiderman hit them repeatedly after drinking, sometimes in bed and never with their consent. Barish and Selvaratnam said what he did to them was assault. They did not report the allegations to law enforcement at the time but they both said they did seek medical attention after they were slapped hard on the face and on the ears. They also were choked, they allege.
Selvaratnam said that the AG warned her he could have her followed and have her phones tapped. Both say he threatened to end their lives if they broke things off with them.
Another romantic partner of Schneiderman said Manning Barish and Selvaratnam that he subjected her to physical violence that was not consensual. She said that she was too afraid to speak out about it. A fourth woman who is an attorney who has had positions of note in the New York legal community, said Schneiderman made advances toward her. When she blew him off, he slapped her in the face so hard that it left a mark for a day. She remembers screaming in pain and surprise and starting to cry.
She also shared a photo of her facial injury with the New Yorker.
In response, Schneiderman issued a statement that said in the privacy of romantic relationships, he had engaged in role playing and other types of consensual sexual activity. He said that he never assaulted anyone and never engaged in non consensual sex.
Abusive Relationships While Prosecuting Harvey Weinstein
Barish was romantically involved with the AG from summer 2013 until New Year’s Day in 2015. Selvaratnam was with him from summer 2016 until fall 2017. Both are liberal feminists in their 40s who live in Manhattan. They work and socialize in separate areas of the city but they know each other’s stories.
In February after the first Harvey Weinstein stories broke, Schneiderman announced his office was going to file a civil rights lawsuit against the disgraced movie producer. The AG said to the press that he had never seen anything as despicable as what he saw with the Weinstein situation.
Schneiderman’s activism for women and feminist causes has gotten him praise over the years from women’s groups. But Barish told the New Yorker that Schneiderman is a hypocrite; you cannot after all be a champion for women if you are abusing them and calling them whores. She also questions the AG being involved in the Weinstein investigation: “How can you put a potential sexual abuser himself in charge of a huge sexual assault case?”
For her part, Selvaratnam describes the AG as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. She said that him being praised as a supporter of women’s rights made her feel sick. She said that he staked his career on being a women’s champion but he was abusing them behind closed doors.
Barish is a feminist and she said she was happy to be involved with a man who was a supporter of women’s rights. But soon after they become intimate, she saw signs of abusive and controlling behavior. She said he wanted her to remove a small tattoo from her wrist because it was inappropriate if they were married.
She added that about one month after they became sexually involved, the AG began to get violent. As she remembers it, they both had drank a bit and he called her a whore. She said something back. She said that Schneiderman backed her to the edge of the bed and slapped her very hard across the face and on the ear. He then allegedly held her on the bed and started to choke her. She eventually got back to her feet, in shock and crying. Barish said she shouted at him, and he complained she had scratched him. He also allegedly said to her that hitting an officer of the law is a felony.
After that incident, Manning Barish left his apartment and said she would never return. She told the New Yorker that she wanted it to be clear that this incident was not a sex game gone wrong. It did not occur while they were having sex. She was fully dressed and never removed her clothes. She said that she never consented to being physically assaulted.
After that night, Barish told three close friends that Schneiderman had hit her. Her friends all said she was very upset and that she was hit very hard. It appeared that when he would drink he could change and become more violent.
Eventually, Barish did got back to Schneiderman after the AG continued to call her. His security detail came to her apartment a few days later and he came to her door with flowers and a case of wine. She was surprised that he was bringing wine, as it appeared that alcohol fueled his behavior. Barish’s ear actually bothered her for month and eventually a doctor had to remove dried blood from it.
She continued to see him over two years and when she had sex with him he often would slap her across the face without consent. Barish also said she feel emotionally abused by remarks he made about how she dressed and looked. He also controlled what she ate and encouraged her to lose 30 pounds until she looked emaciated.
Since the New Yorker published its piece, Schneiderman resigned his position as the attorney general of New York. He said the allegations in the piece are unrelated to his work and the operations of his office, he will not be able to lead the state’s legal arm effectively, so he said he will resign effective May 8, 2018.