NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Accused of Abusing Women


Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonderandhome.com

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40 Responses

  1. Avatar Maribou says:

    I am never going to get used to the New Yorker being a breaking-news organ in any sense of the word, let alone breaking news that disparages rich and powerful men.

    I mean, given Farrow’s experiences I totally understand how we got here, but it still sets up so much cognitive dissonance in my head…Report

    • In Farrows case, look at all the places that turned him down or shut out his original work on the Weinstein story, so maybe not so suprising after all. To their credit certainly for going there were “traditional” news organs dared not.Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        @andrew-donaldson Well, yeah, that’s exactly what I meant (well, technically about 80 percent of what I meant) by “given Farrow’s experiences I totally understand how we got here”. Not surprise, at all, just cognitive dissonance.Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        @andrew-donaldson I should also note that this kind of wry off-the-main-point observation on domestic violence topics can pretty much always be read as “maribou is triggered by this story and thus dissociating and looking for unimportant things to talk about”. *rubs her throat ruefully*

        The most important takeaway, for me, having now read the whole story, is that Tanya Selvaratnam, especially — not to diminish the bravery of the other women who have come forward, of course — is a fishing hero. The level of bravery needed for a woman to reach out to others to find out if she was part of a pattern, and then to accuse someone so highly placed, who had threatened to kill her…. that’s a woman who understands the concepts of honor and of duty, and who is worthy of admiration.Report

        • The importance of covering and discussing these types of stories, while always trying to be a little sensitive to the victims and understand the accused has some rights as well, is that so often once that first person comes forward there is a flood of others. These women, at least as the story has unfolded so far, had no recourse at all until two journalist took up their cause and story. We cannot say victims should speak out if we are not going give them fair hearing when they do. I suspect the swiftness of the resignation here may well mean there is other things yet to reveal.Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Schneiderman resigned hours after the story came out. Cuomo called on him to resign quickly. On the other hand, Greitens is holding on to power despite similar accusations and similar political pressure in Missouri.

    This is a really interesting case study of so many things. One could be how much women are the base of the Democratic Party. Another is how not having any scruples makes it easy to exploit political systems.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Another is how not having any scruples makes it easy to exploit political systems.

      It certainly does. Schneiderman was one of the people in charge of investigating Weinstein.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        The Democratic Party tries to live up to our principles even if individual Democratic politicians fail at times. I guess when you belong to a political party with no principles besides raw political power and appeasing the wealthy, you get a pass on any bad thing you do.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

          Jaybird never misses an opportunity to troll.Report

        • Avatar Maribou says:

          @leeesq @saul-degraw
          1) Jaybird votes Democrat or 3rd-party and insofar as he belongs to a party it is the Democratic one, which he regularly caucuses for, as he has stated on here multiple times (and I personally know it’s true).

          2) The two of you were the only ones focusing this narrowly on partisan politics. I personally think it’s extremely relevant that Schneiderman was the one who was in charge of investigating Weinstein for all kinds of reasons, some of which pass the crazy-conspiracy-theorist sniff test and some of which don’t, but none of which I feel particularly inclined to explore after both of you reacted to someone bringing it up in the way that you did.

          3) I was seriously tempted to delete both of these comments, particularly yours, Saul, from a moderator stance, as being both uncivil and offtopic, and only refrained because a) it’s a topic that I know I get pretty upset about and thus I’m already upset, and I don’t want to be unfair because of that, b) Jaybird, I give people more leash with him because he shouldn’t get special treatment for being married to the moderator, so I go out of my way to not.

          But seriously, truly, as an abuse victim and as someone who cares about this site, my personal opinion is that you should both be embarrassed to be making comments like these in this context. Did you even read the damn article?Report

  3. Avatar InMD says:

    I’m going to throw it out there, because I always do, but I think this process needs to slow down. There needs to be a police investigation and I’m withholding judgment until there is one. If there’s evidence he beat up and/or did anything to these women without their consent he needs to be charged with the appropriate felonies.

    But this is what #MeToo invites- straight up McCarthyism where an accusation that hasn’t been meaningfully vetted knocks someone out of the game. I say that as someone who thinks the Mueller investigation hasn’t proven anything except the accuracy of Ken White’s take on talking to the FBI. Now we’ve got a new precedent where ideological fanatics like Ronan Farrow have the power to disrupt a high stakes investigation with serious political implications in hours by reporting hearsay. None of this means Schneiderman is not in fact a violent criminal but this is not the way this should he handled. My guess is that the precedent won’t be lost on the army of political operatives out there looking for advantages in their extra-constitutional wars with each other.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      We’ve got a case here where the women who were (allegedly) attacked by this guy did the right thing and (allegedly) went to the authorities where their own (alleged) allies (allegedly) told them that they should keep their mouths shut out of solidarity with the cause.

      They tried to do things the right way. They got shut down. So they used Ronan Farrow.

      Saying “they should have done things the right way!”, in this case, fails to take into account how they (allegedly) already tried to do things the right way and got shut the hell down.

      If this was another Aziz Ansari situation, I’d probably agree that #MeToo was cutting itself off at the knees and harming whatever cause it ostensibly had.

      But this is a case where the women were (allegedly) abused, went to the authorities, and then (allegedly) got told that, to be a good ally, they should quit making waves.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I mean we’re talking about People In Power. The question of why someone didn’t go to the cops to report on the guy who works with the cops and prosecutes crimes on behalf of the cops didn’t arrest the guy who is the boss of the prosecutors is a question that answers itself.

        The system is, itself, corrupt.

        Going to Ronan Farrow was pretty much the only option available.Report

        • Avatar InMD says:

          Not sure how it works in NY but a state AG doesn’t typically have any authority over municipal and county police or municipal or county prosecutors who handle these kinds of offenses. A state AG is responsible for administering certain state legal functions that come under the AG’s office. There can be a role in setting criminal justice policy in the state but they aren’t the ones prosecuting criminal charges.Report

      • Avatar InMD says:

        But this is a case where the women were (allegedly) abused, went to the authorities, and then (allegedly) got told that, to be a good ally, they should quit making waves.

        I’ll absolutely reconsider if that is documented. In that case we’d have not only a scandal about a government official’s violent criminal conduct but also a scandal about the police protecting him. The New Yorker article specifically says none of the accusers contacted the police or took any official action and the in the one account of medical treatment a different explanation was given to the doctor.

        I’ve only read the New Yorker story though so if something else has come out that might change my opinion.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Ah, you’re right. I misread what had happened (damn me for getting my story from twitter rather than reading the thing itself).

          But I will point out the last paragraph of the article and say that there are dynamics at play here that make this situation very different from the Aziz Ansari one:

          Selvaratnam, by contrast, feels caught up in circumstances that have given her only one real choice: to go public. “It’s torturous for me to do this,” she says. “I like my life.” Of this article, she says, “I wish my name did not have to be in it,” and notes, of Schneiderman, “I know it’s going to be my word against his, because I don’t have photos of bruises, and I don’t have a police report.” Schneiderman’s accusers, she feels, are in an unusually difficult situation. As she puts it, “What do you do if your abuser is the top law-enforcement official in the state?”

          So I’ll repeat her question:

          What do you do if your abuser is the top law-enforcement official in the state?Report

          • Avatar InMD says:

            Someone who knows NY law would need to chime in on this but see my comment above. Just because he’s AG it doesnt follow that the police would be arresting their boss or a state’s attorney or DA would be prosecuting their boss.

            Now obviously there are political considerations and maybe a chief of police or local chief prosecutor wouldn’t want to touch it because of the heat but that hasn’t been established. In Maryland for example if a state official smacks his wife around county cops don’t face a constitutional problem or conflict of interest in chosing to arrest and a state’s attorney wouldn’t face one in prosecuting him.

            Now maybe there’s reason to suspect local authorities would have been too intimidated but no one reported so we don’t know. Had that happened then yea going public would be the only option.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Well, is there reason to believe that the office in question was corrupt?

              Like, say, if something like Weinstein happened, did the office drag its feet? Like, is there reason to believe that Vance, for example, dragged his feet on the Weinstein investigation?

              If so, there *MIGHT* be reason to believe that the office was compromised.Report

              • Avatar InMD says:

                Those are excellent questions and they’re exactly the kinds of things I’d expect a good reporter to ask and include in the story, and for a good editor to ensure was covered prior to going to press.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      I largely disagree in this case. Two women went on the record with Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow. Another two had their records confirmed via fact checking.

      I think we need a movement against messiahs of all varieties. A lot of people like Schneiderman’s antagonism towards Trump but we should be discarding the idea that anyone person can solve all the problems. Politicians should also be disabused by this notion.

      Also there is an idea that punishment works best when it is swift and certain over being harsh. A long protracted investigation lets abusers stay on. A loud “you need to resign now” might get lessons sunk in for future generations.Report

      • Avatar InMD says:

        No one should be untouchable. I have no particular love for Schneiderman and at the end of the day if he’s convicted of something I won’t shed any tears for him. Hell I started lawyer life as a defense attorney and have no special love of the authorities, whatever partisan cause they seem to be helping at any given time.

        But I also don’t think it makes sense to compartmentalize it as somehow outside of the Mueller investigation, the role the media has played in it, or the ongoing potential for this decade’s moral panic to turn into a weapon that makes our ongoing political crisis worse.Report

    • Avatar pillsy says:

      1. I’m not really sure what Ronan Farrow has done to get himself classified as an ideological fanatic. In any event, the story has three of the four women accusing Shneiderman on the record (one anonymously), so there’s a lot more than hearsay in the story.

      2. What’s the alternative in terms of handling this? Women not speaking to the media? The media not reporting on-the-record, nonymous accusations? Neither really seems tenable.Report

      • Avatar InMD says:

        For me the Sabrina Erdely approach to reporting should be discredited, even if it happens to get the facts right sometimes, and especially when it implicates a federal investigation.Report

        • Avatar pillsy says:

          The Sabrina Erdely approach involved slipshod fact checking of an anonymously sourced accusation, none of which appears to apply to Farrow’s New Yorker piece (nor to his piece on Weinstein, for that matter).Report

          • Avatar InMD says:

            I concede your point on the anonymity issue. However I’m not sure where the other fact checking happened. I’ve read the piece three times now to make sure I’m not being uncharitable and I just don’t see where the unbiased corroboration is. The meat of the story is a recitation of accusations of things that happened years ago in private. I mean, how were these specific things Schneiderman is alleged to have said documented? Do the reporters have notebooks? Emails?

            As always adding the qualifier that it doesn’t mean its false but I feel obligated to approach narrative forms like this that only reflect one individual’s recollections with skepticism.Report

            • Avatar pillsy says:

              Well, in the case of Ms Barrish, she provided medical records from 2013 that were consistent with her description of abuse, there was corroboration that she had confided about the abuse to Salman Rushdie, and, perhaps least damningly but still important, they found items in the press from the time documenting the relationship. The one victim who declined to be named provided a photo of her injury.

              This isn’t proof beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, but that isn’t the standard for news reporting, and it’s vastly more than Rolling Stone had when they went to press with the UVa article.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @pillsy @inmd (I was typing when pillsy was typing and got called away, so didn’t see his comment till I’d finished mine, btw – didn’t mean to repeat what he said with less info than he gave….)Report

              • Avatar InMD says:

                Had the doctor said she was told the treatment was in conjunction with being hit I’d find that to be very, very convincing (she said she stabbed her eardrum with a q-tip). Statements to friends where the friend never witnessed anything, I find to be less so.Report

            • Avatar Maribou says:

              @inmd The piece mentions at least one timestamped email from someone an accusation was made to. Also a photograph of injuries – that doesn’t prove non-consensuality, of course. Also doctor’s reports from the time, of damage that is consonant with the accusations, although the accuser claimed back then that it was accidental because, she says, she was *in an abusive relationship and conflicted about it*. (Sorry to be vague, I don’t have the emotional energy to go back and reread it to get the names. This also means, of course, that there might be more such objects that I am forgetting about.)

              If you want documented non-second-party proof – proof only of conversations between the accused and the accuser without third party testimony – that a canny lawyer made threats and committed violence within the context of an ongoing abusive relationship, you are *never going to get it*. Only stupid people (or *almost* only – there are people whose compulsions make them stupid) would ever get convicted of domestic abuse under such a standard. (I mean, that’s why restraining orders are so much easier to get than convictions, because the courts know this.)

              I’m not saying he needs to go to jail based on he-said/multiple-shes-told-their-friends-at-the-time, but there’s no reason why reporters need to use as high a standard of proof as the one you seem to be prescribing.Report

              • Avatar InMD says:

                I don’t think I’m asking for much. Seems like if someone had filed a police report soon after, especially with visible injuries there’d be a lot to go on. I thought the Rob Porter thing for example was quite clear cut.

                But to me this is more about media credibility than anything else. Maybe I’ve over-learned certain lessons going back to 2002-2003. I guess I’m open to unlearning them but it would take time, and really good, thorough reporting that seems to consistently get things right.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                “Seems like if someone had filed a police report soon after”

                I think if you knew more about how abusive relationships usually work, and how deeply they are based in creating fear /terror/Stockholm Syndrome in the victims, you would see this as less determinative.

                Unfortunately I know way too much about how they usually work, so I don’t have the energy to spar about it.

                The book “Coercive Control,” by the sociologist referenced in the article, is apparently really well-regarded in the field. (I’ll be reading it at some point soon, because when I followed up after reading the article, it was both astounding well-received and astoundingly good (in the brief excerpts I saw) at describing what my life as a kid with a coercive, incredibly abusive father who “passed” as impressive to most of the outside world was like.). It’s possible that reading it (or something like it) would give you more of a window into what kind of evidence is or isn’t likely to surface in a domestic abuse case, than I can.

                At *minimum*, we have someone who is both parading himself as a champion of #metoo and behaving in relationships in such a way that multiple women complained to their friends about it years before now.

                Is that not worthy of distancing by the political party (which is all that really happened at the moment)? Is it not news-worthy?

                If you don’t think so, yeah, you probably have some unlearning to do.Report

  4. Avatar Damon says:

    Meetoo is a wave that’s still building. I may have made the statement here or elsewhere, but the body count will rise. This is turning into a crusade. I have zero problems when people like this ass get crucified, but it won’t end there…it’ll sweep up dumb guys who clumsily make a pass at a woman and ends up getting fire, or some such. I think we’ll also see some “institutional” breaks attempt to be put on, which might or might not work. One thing for sure….the number of democrats and republicans getting caught up in this will continue to increase. And additionally, I’m enjoying some tasty schadenfreude that a “champion of women” and advocate for the cause, is likely going going to get burned at the stake he was planning to use on other people. Not because of his politics, but his hypocrisy. He sounds like a nasty piece of work.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      The "male feminist ally turns out to be a creeper/harasser" is the "family values politician turns out to be gay" for millenials.— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) August 7, 2016


    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      The MeToo movement seems to be able to go after high profile harassers in the way past movements did not. It’s something of a necessary corrective but I think many men are nervous for the reasons stated above. They know they are still expected to approach but aren’t sure what constitutes a valid approach.Report