New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned shortly after the bombshell report from The New Yorker on four women, two on the record, who accused the powerful and prominent politician of physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse.
Schneiderman, who has been a vocal champion of the #MeToo movement said in his resignation statement just a few hours after the story broke that, “It’s been my great honor and privilege to serve as Attorney General for the people of the State of New York. In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me. 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. I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018.”
Six months later, prosecutors said there would be no charges filed against Schneiderman.
Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam both agreed to be named and go public with their accusations with journalists Rowan Farrow and Jane Meyer.
Manning Barish, 46, and Selvaratnam told the magazine Schniderman “repeatedly hit them, often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent” and described the abuse as assault. Neither filed police reports but told The New Yorker they each eventually sought medical attention. And both women say they were threatened with death should they leave him. Schneiderman’s spokesperson told the magazine he never made those threats.
Schneiderman told The New Yorker in a statement that “..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 non consensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”
Manning Barish was romantically involved with Schneiderman from the summer of 2013 until New Year’s Day in 2015. Selvaratnam was with him from the summer of 2016 until the fall of 2017.
Farrow and Meyer wrote both women are “articulate, progressive Democratic feminists in their forties who live in Manhattan.” The women are aware of each other but haven’t spoken to one another. The report says that “as Schneiderman used the authority of his office to assume a major role in the #MeToo movement, their anguish and anger grew.”
And so they came forward. Two other women, who feared retaliation and did not identify themselves for the report, were nonetheless vetted by Farrow and Meyer, and one shared pictures of injuries she said she sustained at the hands of Schneiderman.
Schneiderman, 63, is divorced from lobbyist Jennifer Cunningham and they have an adult daughter. In his statement announcing his resignation, Schneiderman, who had held the office since 2010, said, “It’s been my great honor and privilege to serve as Attorney General for the people of the State of New York. In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me. 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. I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018.”
Here’s what you need to know about Michelle Manning Barish:
1. Manning Barish Said She Came Forward ‘for My Daughter & for All Women’
On her Twitter account, just minutes after the New Yorker story went live, Manning Barish wrote, “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…”
Manning Barish said she and Schneiderman met in the summer of 2013. She was then, and is now, a political activist. A single divorced mother, Manning Barish said she “fell quickly” for the rising political star with whom she shared progressive political ideals and values and they began dating. But she soon found him to be controlling: “Taking a strong woman and tearing her to pieces is his jam,” she told The New Yorker.” She alleged that during some sexual foreplay after drinking he became violent and slapped her “open handed and with great force, across the face, landing the blow directly onto” her ear. She tried to fight but she said he “…used his body weight to hold me down, and he began to choke me. The choking was very hard. It was really bad. I kicked. In every fibre, I felt I was being beaten by a man.”
And she confided in a number of friends including the author Salman Rushdie whom she had dated all of who confirmed the incident for the magazine. But she did not leave him; they reconciled. But it didn’t last although by appearances and reports, it ended amicably.
2. Manning Barish & Schneiderman Broke Up in 2015
The New York Post’s “Page Six” gossip column reported in April 2015 the couple had broken up after a year and a half together. “Sources tell us the beautiful redhead ended her relationship with the Empire State’s top law enforcer in January. One source said the pair has remained on friendly terms, and the reason for the split was because ‘Eric is very much focused on his political career,'” Page Six wrote.
Manning Barish said that while she was with Schneiderman he’d slap her during sex, force her to drink, forced her to have a tattoo removed, make negative comments about her body and had a problem with alcohol himself and took prescription tranquilizers including ones she said were hers. Schneiderman has denied this.
“It is all true. Except for the words of one man,” she wrote on her Facebook shortly after the story was published. “Please send lots of love and strength to me and Bee. I love you guys. ALWAYS speak truth to power.”
She received immediate support.
Twitter was chock full of commentary, some praiseful and supportive, some biting and critical and from all quarters; the verified, partisans, women and men connected to the #MeToo movement, and just everyday people, many of whom sought to champion Manning Barish for her dauntlessness.
But more than a few have questioned the timing and the larger political implications of the scandal.
3. Manning Barish Is an Activist & Writer Who Spoke Out Against the Iraq War
A Huffington Post blogger, Manning Barish began her activism when her younger brother was deployed to Iraq. An outspoken critic of the Iraq War, she supported the troops, she said, and that meant to “bring them home now.”
Manning Barish appeared in Moveon.org videos and produced many herself.
Manning Barish is also an on-camera social change media maker for Art Not War, a New York and Los Angeles-based cultural impact and public relations firm specializing in social justice movement building and digital strategy.
In a bio on HuffPo, it’s said her “purpose and passion is to create positive social change, revealing injustices and inspiring others through mindfulness and a feeling of empowerment and connectedness to create the change in the world we all hope to see.”
Born November 28, 1971, and raised in South Florida, she studied English at Florida International University and studied Urban Humanitarian Emergency Crisis Management at Harvard University. She is divorced from Chris Barish, a film producer who has owned several restaurants and nightclubs. She and Chris Barish have a daughter, Bee, together. Michelle Manning Barish also dated writer Salman Rushdie.
4. Manning Barish Did Relief Work in New York After Hurricane Sandy & Wrote About the Failures of the Red Cross While Creating Her Own ‘Bee Prepared’ Videos
After spending weeks doing humanitarian aid relief work in the Rockaways in Queens, New York, after Hurricane Sandy leveled the seaside community in 2012, Manning Barish wrote a piece for the Daily Beast about the absence of the American Red Cross that was widely praised for its candor.
“For 14 days after the hurricane, I worked all over the Rockaways …” she wrote, evacuating people, handing out supplies, delivered meals, helped out at a local school and “begged, borrowed, and hustled to get the critical supplies that people needed, waited hours for gasoline like everyone else, and this effort—by thousands like myself—was how the communities were saved and fed.”
“I only saw Red Cross vehicles twice in two weeks,” she wrote.
Having studied Urban Humanitarian Emergency Crisis Management, Manning Barish even went on to created a video on preparedness in 2014, “Bee Prepared: GO BAGS with Michelle Manning Barish.”
She describes herself as a “prepper,” which is a movement of survivalists preparing for natural, and unnatural, disasters from superstorms to social or political chaos.
5. On Her Instagram, Manning Barish Penned an Ode to Women to ‘Rise Up’ & ‘Speak Up’ & Stand Together
“I’ve been thinking a lot about Female Empowerment lately. It’s because I’m writing about it now. Watching. Asking questions. Seeing. Observing and Participating. I hate to report back: that on a whole, we have fallen short of where we need to be. I have seen some of the most inspiring stories, but also women who just aren’t ready for change. And some truly horrible things too. We actively vote against ourselves when we base our decisions on ambition, self serving priorities and neglect the greater good-of all. If you can’t see that: you will always have a false sense of freedom-a lie-and nothing will change,” she wrote.
“Here’s the thing: we can not have a “revolution” simply with Sharpies, hashtags and pussy hats. We must rise up. Speak truth to power. Be brave. And fight. And: if you can’t do that, if you aren’t ready, we must NEVER abandon our sisters. Never. The ONLY way we change this world, for the better and for equality is if we get deeply brave, deeply honest, and fight.”
On Tuesday Nov. 13, six months after the story broke, Manning Barish went on CBS to say that Schneiderman has never personally apologized. Her appearance came five days after it was announced by Nassau County (NY) District Attorney Madeline Singas that no charges would be filed against Schneiderman. The disgraced former AG issued a statement that said he’d entered rehab and was sorry for his actions.
But Manning Barish said she appreciates the apology and hopes it’s sincere.
“I knew I wouldn’t have personal justice,” as the statute of limitations ran out on pursuing criminal charges.