Thursday, May 17, 2018
Another MeToo champion takes a tumble.... and apparently, so did his alleged victims
By The Editorial Board
The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.
May 7, 2018
Until Monday evening New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was a public champion of the #MeToo movement. Now he appears to be the latest sickening example of the scale and insidiousness of the cruelty that movement is confronting. He resigned late Monday after The New Yorker magazine published an article in which four women accused him of abusing them physically and emotionally.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo should appoint a responsible, independent prosecutor to investigate any possible criminal charges against Mr. Schneiderman and abuses of his office.
Mr. Schneiderman admitted no wrongdoing. Instead, he said in a statement that the “serious allegations, which I strongly contest,” had made it impossible to do his job.
But the allegations outlined by the women are consistent, detailed and bone-chilling.
Two women who had been in relationships with Mr. Schneiderman — Michelle Manning Barish, a liberal activist, and Tanya Selvaratnam, an author — told the magazine that he choked and hit them, often during sex, and subjected them to verbal abuse. They said he slapped them so hard that Ms. Manning Barish bled from her ear long after the blow, while Ms. Selvaratnam suffered from episodes of vertigo.
Both said Mr. Schneiderman threatened to kill them, while Ms. Selvaratnam said the state attorney also warned her he could have her followed and her phone tapped.
The women told The New Yorker that Mr. Schneiderman drank heavily, and would often force them to drink alcohol. Ms. Selvaratnam told the magazine Mr. Schneiderman called her his “brown slave,” and forced her to say that she was, “his property.”
Mr. Schneiderman joins a sorry list of once-rising stars in New York’s Democratic Party whose careers imploded amid allegations of personal misconduct, including former Gov. Eliot Spitzer and former Congressman Anthony Weiner. As was the case with those men, the resignation of Mr. Schneiderman could have far-reaching consequences.
The attorney general was in the midst of pushing a proposal to change New York’s double jeopardy statute so any aides to President Trump that he might pardon — in an effort to keep them from cooperating with the special counsel — could be prosecuted under state charges. Mr. Schneiderman’s moralizing may have proven hollow, but that proposal remains worthy given Mr. Trump’s continual attempts to derail the special counsel’s investigation, including raising the prospect of such pardons.
Mr. Schneiderman’s office this year also brought a civil rights lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein, the movie producer accused of sexual assault and other misconduct.
Under state law, the Senate and Assembly will jointly choose Mr. Schneiderman’s replacement, effectively giving the power to his fellow Democrats. Later, voters will go to the polls in the Democratic primary, and have their say about who would face the Republican candidate in November. Whoever serves in this important office should be tough and independent, willing to stand up to Mr. Trump and Mr. Cuomo and — it should go without saying, but now it needs to be said — be a decent human being.
Anyone involved in the effort to replace Mr. Schneiderman should remember: No one is above the law.