New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman quits amid abuse reports

Eric Schneiderman is one of America’s top lawyers and has been a vocal supporter of women’s rights. Courtesy: BBC

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has resigned following allegations of assault by four women. 

The resignation came after The New Yorker magazine published a reportquoting the women who accused Mr Schneiderman of hitting them.

Two identified themselves as former girlfriends of his.

Mr Scheiderman – who contests the allegations – has been a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.

“In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity,” he said in an initial statement on Monday. “I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in non-consensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”

He later said he “strongly contests” the allegations but would step down.

“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,” he said. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had called for Mr Scheiderman’s resignation, following the reports.

“No one is above the law, including New York’s top legal officer,” he said. “I do not believe it is possible for Eric Scheiderman to continue to serve as attorney general.”

Mr Cuomo said he would ask a prosecutor to investigate the allegations.

Two women – Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam – told The New Yorker that Mr Scheiderman had repeatedly hit them, often after drinking heavily.

Both women also said he had threatened to kill them if they ended the relationship.

“After the most difficult month of my life – I spoke up,” Ms Manning Barish wrote on Twitter after the allegations were published.

“For my daughter and for all women. I could not remain silent and encourage other women to be brave for me.” 

As New York state’s chief prosecutor, Mr Scheiderman brought legal action against film mogul Harvey Weinstein in February after dozens of allegations of sexual abuse were made against him.

The lawsuit alleged that Mr Weinstein abused female employees and made verbal threats to kill staff members.

After announcing the lawsuit, he spoke out in a tweet against sexual harassment and intimidation.