The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a women’s rights organization in northwest D.C., said its members were appalled to learn of the allegations of intimate partner violence, including physical assault and strangulation, against New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman by four women.
The group said in a news release that it was particularly angry with Schneiderman’s oft-characterization of himself as one of the “leading supportive male voices in the #MeToo movement,” when he himself is an abuser of women, is rank hypocrisy.
“He engaged in the same behaviors he decried in others,” said Ruth Glenn, president and CEO of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a group that was founded in 1983 to be the voice of victims and survivors and catalyze change that leads to zero tolerance of domestic violence. “Despite authoring and shepherding a bill criminalizing strangulation to passage in New York state while serving as a New York state senator, he strangled his victims.”
Four women have come forward accusing Schneiderman of subjecting them to nonconsensual physical violence.
All have been reluctant to speak out, fearing reprisal, according to a bombshell report in The New Yorker, which also broke the story about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual abuse.
But two of the women, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, talked to The New Yorker on the record, because they said they felt by doing so they could protect other women. They allege that he repeatedly hit them, often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent. The two categorize the abuse he inflicted upon them as “assault,” according to The New Yorker.
They did not report their allegations to the police at the time, but both said they eventually sought medical attention after having been slapped hard across the ear and face, and also choked.
Selvaratnam said Schneiderman warned her he could have her followed and her phones tapped, and both said that he threatened to kill them if they broke up with him.
Schneiderman’s spokesperson said that he “never made any of these threats.”\
A third former romantic partner of Schneiderman’s told Manning Barish and Selvaratnam that he also repeatedly subjected her to nonconsensual physical violence, but she told them that she is too frightened of him to come forward.
A fourth woman, an attorney who has held prominent positions in the New York legal community, said Schneiderman made an advance toward her. When she rebuffed him, he slapped her across the face with such force that it left a mark that lingered the next day.
In a statement, Schneiderman said, “In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity. I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in nonconsensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”
However, Glenn’s organization noted that the former attorney general’s public statements do not respond to the allegations of emotional and psychological abuse, nor do they address his threats, including death threats and threats to misuse his power as an officer of the law to monitor and to punish them.
Blaming the assaults on role-playing and other consensual sexual activity is a transparent attempt to deny all culpability and to shift blame elsewhere, and the words of Michelle Manning Barish, Tanya Selvaratnam and his other unnamed and verified accusers strongly contradicts his narrative, Glenn said.
“What these women have described in their accounts is domestic violence, plain and simple,” she said. “Physical and sexual abuse often are intertwined as tools to exert power and control by an abuser over the victim. Schneiderman’s attempts to use his position as an office of the law to intimidate his victims and circumvent the law are especially abhorrent.”