New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned just a few hours after the The New Yorker reported that four women, two on the record, accused the powerful and prominent politician of physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse.
Schneiderman, a champion of the #MeToo movement said in his resignation statement posted to the NY AG website 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.”
Tanya Selvaratnam and Michelle Manning Barish both agreed to be named and go public with their accusations with journalists Jane Mayer and Rowan Farrow.
Manning Barish and Selvaratnam told the magazine Schneiderman was a violent, sadist who drank, took drugs and physically, emotionally, and verbally abused them. Neither filed police reports but told The New Yorker they each had sought help and medical attention afterwards.
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.”
Selvaratnam was with him from the summer of 2016 until the fall of 2017. Manning Barish was romantically involved with Schneiderman from the summer of 2013 until New Year’s Day in 2015.
The New Yorker 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,” so they came forward. Two other women, who feared retaliation and did not identify themselves for the report, were nonetheless vetted Farrow wrote, 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., Catherine.
Here’s what you need to know about Tanya Selvaratnam:
1. Selvaratnam’s Shocking Story Describes Schneiderman as Being an Abusive Violent Sexual Sadist & Misogynist With a Drug & Alcohol Problem
Selvaratnam met Schneiderman at the Democratic National Convention, in Philadelphia in 2016. They had mutual and singular interests including Buddhism and the Chinese language. They soon were a couple. Selvaratnam reached out to Heavy to clarify some reporting: She says Schneiderman, while loving and fawning, had a dark side; early in their relationship, he began to slap her, then he abused her sexually and made sexual demands including a “threesome” and would hit her until she found a woman to participate, a demand she “knew (she) would not follow through on.” But worse, she said, “Sometimes, he’d tell me to call him ‘master,’ and he’d slap me until I did …he started calling me his ‘brown slave’ and demanding that I repeat that I was ‘his property.'”
And the abuse continued and worsened, she said. He beat her every time they had sex, she said adding he is a “is a misogynist and a sexual sadist.” And he was also drinking heavily and using tranquilizers as was alleged by Manning Barish in her experience with Schneiderman, which led to a fall, a hospital visit and a spin on what had happened. She said she realizes how incongruous it is that she stayed for a year, adding she now knows why “independent women get stuck” in abusive relationships. She alleged Schneiderman said “he would have to kill me if we broke up, on multiple occasions. He also told me he could have me followed and could tap my phone.”
But she did finally break away, she said, albeit suffering emotionally and physically, she shared her story with a friend, “should any harm come to her” that friend documented her account of the year-long relationship. She knew Schneiderman’s secrets: “alcoholism, sexual deviance, and drug use…,” she told the magazine.
Twitter was chock full of commentary, many supportive, some 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 Selvaratnam for her bravery in coming forward.
2. Selvaratnam Wrote ‘The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock’
Selvaratnam said “The Big Lie is that we can do things on our own timetables.” It was her mission to “educate women about the truth behind infertility by sharing her own struggles.”
Excerpted in scores of magazines including Vogue, Selvaratnam wrote, “It’s a tragedy that more career women of my generation are unable to or are choosing not to have kids, because we would be great role models for our kids. We are more independent and more educated than our mothers’ generation. Many of us started panicking about our biological clock in our mid-thirties, and maybe that was too late.”
3. Selvaratnam is an Award-Winning Prolific Producer, Actor, & Filmmaker
What hasn’t she produced? Selvaratnam is an Emmy-nominated and Webby-winning producer with two decades working in the arts and social justice. She is also an experienced fundraiser, organizer, connector, and public relations strategist. Selvaratnam has been executive video producer of major events including GLAMOUR Women of the Year and for Planned Parenthood. She’s produced art exhibits, made more than a dozen films including shorts, feature documentaries, online and on TV.
She’s done television series and worked on film portraits of famous actors, filmmakers, artists like Yoko Ono and actress Charlotte Gainsbourg. Her work has appeared on HBO, Discovery Channel, PBS and myriad others. And she’s had premieres at Sundance and Tribeca film festivals. She’s also an actor who’s appeared in film and video and acted at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center and the Institute of Contemporary Art and American Repertory Theater in Massachusetts.
4. Selvaratnam is a Feminist, Humatiarian & Activist
Selvaratnam’s career in the arts and social justice began with her work assisting Anna Deavere Smith on the development of Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 about the human toll of the L.A. riots, and with her position as a youth organizer on the steering committee of the NGO Forum/Fourth World Conference on Women in China in 1995. She was an organizer and researcher for the World Health Organization’s Kobe Conference on Women and Tobacco in 1999 and she worked with the Ms. Foundation
She produced the Artists for Tsunami Relief benefit, worked as a video producer for ‘Gays Against Guns.’
She is co-founder of The Federation, where ‘art is essential to Democracy’ a “coalition of artists, organizations, and allies committed to keeping cultural borders open and showing how art unites us. Selvaratnam’s collaborators are the artist Laurie Anderson and the producer Laura Michalchyshyn.”
5. Born in Sri Lanka, Raised in California, She Attended Harvard & Has Been Published in Law Journals
Selvaratnam was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, immigated with her family to Southern California. She grew up in Long Beach and went to the Phillips Academy Andover. Selvaratnam earned a BA and MA from Harvard in East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Regional Studies East Asia, respectively.
Selvaratnam’s thesis for her master’s degree was about women’s rights in China and it was published in the Journal of Law and Politics.