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Manhattan DA Opens Investigation Of Allegations Against N.Y. Attorney General

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says he will resign on Tuesday, following accusations that he physically assaulted multiple women. Schneiderman contests the allegations.
Drew Angerer
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New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says he will resign on Tuesday, following accusations that he physically assaulted multiple women. Schneiderman contests the allegations.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has opened an investigation into the allegations against New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Following a New Yorker article published Monday evening in which four women accused him of nonconsensual physical violence, Schneiderman said he will step down at the close of business on Tuesday.

"In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me," he said in a statement Monday night. "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."

In a statement to The New Yorker, 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."

Schneiderman has been a vocal advocate in the #MeToo movement. In February, he announced a civil rights lawsuit against producer Harvey Weinstein, his brother Robert Weinstein and The Weinstein Company.

Last month, he tweeted approvingly of the Pulitzer Prize awarded to The New York Times and The New Yorker for their reporting on sexual harassment: "Without the reporting of the @nytimes and the @newyorker—and the brave women and men who spoke up about the sexual harassment they endured at the hands of powerful men—there would not be the critical national reckoning underway. A well-deserved honor."

Vance's investigation into the allegations against Schneiderman will be complicated. Schneiderman has been investigating Vance for his involvement in the decision not to prosecute Harvey Weinstein in 2015 after it gathered evidence for a case against him.

In 2012, Vance dropped an investigation into whether Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. had misled prospective buyers on sales of units at Trump SoHo. After that decision was made, the Trumps' attorney, Marc Kasowitz, donated and raised some $50,000 for Vance's re-election campaign.

Vance later told several news outlets he planned to return the money and that it had nothing to do with the Trump SoHo case.

WNYC reportsthat Schneiderman likely will face criminal charges over the allegations, though the NYPD told the member station it has not yet received any complaints against him.

New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood will become the acting attorney general until the state legislature meets to fill the vacancy.

Tanya Selvaratnam is one of the women who told The New Yorker that Schneiderman had slapped and choked her. Selvaratnam was born in Sri Lanka, and said Schneiderman had called her his "brown slave" and demanded that she say she was "his property."

"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," Selvaratnam said in a statement on Monday. "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."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.
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