The special prosecutor investigating former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has started conducting interviews with the women whose allegations of violent slapping, choking and other abuse led to his resignation this month, The Associated Press has learned.
Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas met Wednesday with Michelle Manning Barish, one of the four women whose allegations of abuse were the subject of a New Yorker expose on Schneiderman, according to two people familiar with the investigation.
Both people spoke about the interview on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.
Singas’ office declined comment, saying it would not do so until the investigation is finished. A lawyer for Manning Barish was traveling and could not be immediately reached.
Manning Barish, a Democratic activist and writer, was romantically involved with Schneiderman from mid-2013 through the end of 2014.
She told The New Yorker that Schneiderman, a Democrat, became controlling and abusive soon after they started dating. She said he slapped her hard across the face and choked her.
“I felt like I was being beaten by a man,” she told the magazine.
Tanya Selvaratnam, who dated Schneiderman in 2016 and 2017, and two women whose names were withheld described similar abuse. Some of the women said Schneiderman was a heavy drinker.
Schneiderman, 63, announced his resignation hours after The New Yorker article appeared online. He implied in a statement that his conduct was either welcomed or was not as the women described.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed Singas as a special prosecutor the next day, taking the case away from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest stemming from a probe into movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
Cuomo in March ordered Schneiderman’s office to investigate how Vance’s office handled a 2015 case against Weinstein that resulted in no criminal charges.
Singas, in office since 2015, has assembled a team of top prosecutors from her suburban Long Island office for the Schneiderman investigation and is conducting many of the interviews herself.
The former sex crimes prosecutor, the founder of Nassau’s special victims bureau, is working with authorities in neighboring Suffolk County and New York City to investigate incidents alleged to have occurred in the Hamptons and Manhattan.
Schneiderman’s lawyer, Isabelle Kirshner, has said she is confident Singas “will conduct a fair, thorough and unbiased investigation” that won’t result in any criminal charges.
The allegations tarnished Schneiderman’s reputation as a defender of women at the forefront of the #MeToo movement. Schneiderman launched an investigation last year into movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s studio, and in February filed a lawsuit aimed at securing better compensation for his sexual misconduct accusers.
After the story was published, Manning Barish wrote on Twitter: “After the most difficult month of my life-I spoke up. For my daughter and for all women. I could not remain silent and encourage other women to be brave for me. I could not.”
Early Wednesday morning, she tweeted praise for Cuomo, who is being challenged by “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon in the September primary.
Manning Barish said she was “deeply grateful” for Cuomo’s “swift leadership” in the Scheniderman case.
“Leadership is defined in moments like these, where a statement is made before waiting for public opinion to decide it for you,” she wrote. “He has my vote.”