Sri-Lankan-American author, actor and three other women accuse NY Attorney General of physical abuse leading to his resignation

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New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks during a news conference about a settlement announced against the Bank Of America in the Manhattan borough of New York August 21, 2014. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Author, actor, and film producer Tanya Selvaratnam, who wrote the book, “The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock,” is among four women who have accused New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman,  in scathing allegations of physical and sexual abuse. Their accusations were carried in The New Yorker magazine May 7.

Schneiderman denied the allegations but resigned within hours on grounds he would not be able to carry out his duties in the unfolding situation.

According to Selvaratnam, who stayed in a relationship with Schneiderman for over a year, the Attorney General, slapped her and choked her, as well as called her his ‘slave’ and demanded she arrange a threesome. She alleges that he also threatened he would kill her if she broke off with him and warned her he would tap her phones.

The four women’s accounts are strikingly similar, claiming that Schneiderman was a heavy drinker, but that his abuse was not restricted to only when he was inebriated.

Selvaratnam met him during the 2016 Democratic National Convention, in Philadelphia. She like Schneiderman, had gone to Harvard, and they had both studied Chinese. Initially their partnership appeared to be happy, and Selvaratnam “all but lived in his apartment, attending political functions and dinners with his friends and donors, and brainstorming with him on speeches and projects,” the New Yorker reported in a lengthy article based on the accounts given by the women, and corroborated by friends, among them Indian-American author Salman Rushdie, who had a relationship with one of the other women, Michelle Manning Barish, before she and Schneiderman became a couple.

Selvaratnam is quoted saying “it was a fairy tale that became a nightmare,” when Schneiderman  began physically abusing her in bed. “The slaps started after we’d gotten to know each other,” she told the New Yorker, adding, “It was at first as if he were testing me. Then it got stronger and harder … It wasn’t consensual. This wasn’t sexual playacting. This was abusive, demeaning, threatening behavior.”

Among the other allegations Selvaratnam makes are Schneiderman demanding she find a woman to have a threesome, and hit her till she agreed, even though she had no intention of arranging a threesome.

According to Selvaratnam, “he started calling me his ‘brown slave’ and demanding that I repeat that I was ‘his property,’ ” the article quotes her saying. The abuse increased over time, when he slapped her across the face with an open hand, spat on her and choked her, Selvaratnam says.

It reached a stage where “we could rarely have sex without him beating me,” Selvaratnam says, describing him with words like ‘misogynist’ and ‘sexual sadist.’

She ultimately decided to see less of him, and ultimately removed her things from his apartment.

Both Manning Barish and Selvaratnam described Schneiderman as a man who drank routinely and heavily, a bottle and a half of wine at a time and took sedatives.

Schneiderman’s ex-wife, Jennifer Cunningham, issued a statement after the story broke, saying, “I’ve known Eric for nearly thirty-five years as a husband, father, and friend. These allegations are completely inconsistent with the man I know, who has always been someone of the highest character, outstanding values, and a loving father. I find it impossible to believe these allegations are true.”

Both women spoke to their close friends about the abuse. Manning Barish spoke to Rushdie, who she had dated before Schneiderman, and who is a ‘close friend’ of hers for 15 years.  “She called me and told me he had hit her,” Rushdie told the New Yorker, adding, “She was obviously very upset. I was horrified.” He advised Manning Barish to stay away from Schneiderman.

The two other women who have brought accusations against Schneiderman did not wish to be identified in the article.

Schneiderman has developed a high profile championing the #MeToo movement and was leading the prosecution of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein who is facing multiple accusations of sexual assault.

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