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New York Attorney General Resigns Amid Abuse Allegations


To New York now and the resignation of State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. He stepped down after The New Yorker published an explosive story yesterday, a story describing accusations by four women of abuse, both verbal and physical. Schneiderman has denied their claims but says they effectively prevent him from leading his office. Schneiderman had been out front on progressive causes. He had been a strong advocate for the #MeToo movement to expose powerful men who mistreated women. Now, he is counted in that number, as NPR's Quil Lawrence reports.

QUIL LAWRENCE, BYLINE: New Yorkers have been here before - Eliot Spitzer, crusading governor, caught in a prostitution scandal; Representative Anthony Weiner sending obscene photos to underage girls; now, the attorney general accused of slapping, choking and threatening women he was involved in relationships with.


BRIAN LEHRER: Brian Lehrer on WNYC as we continue...

LAWRENCE: This was the daily call-in show on public radio.


LEHRER: Lauren in Manhattan, you're on WNYC. Hello, Lauren.

LAUREN: I just want to make a comment that I would really like to see the next attorney general either nominated or elected be a woman so New Yorkers don't have to wake up on a random Tuesday to hear that yet another of our leaders has to resign because of a sex scandal. And I don't want to see another man in this position for the next 20 years. I think it is time to elect the women to lead.

LAWRENCE: Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state legislature and will pick a replacement for Shneiderman. In the meantime, the two most prominent politicians in New York took turns condemning their former ally. Mayor Bill de Blasio sitting next to the city's police commissioner encouraged any other victims to come forward.


BILL DE BLASIO: Please do come forward to the NYPD and rest assured you will be believed and that the information will be important to protecting others.

LAWRENCE: There is another New York complication. The New York district attorney who would potentially be prosecuting Eric Schneiderman is Cy Vance Jr. who himself was under scrutiny by Eric Schneiderman for not pursuing sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said whoever pursues the charges against Schneiderman should be free of any conflicts of interest, and the victims will be safe from reprisals.


ANDREW CUOMO: What they were expressing was a fear that there would be no justice because he was the attorney general. And I want them to know that's incorrect - and not in this state. If it's the president of the United States, if it's the attorney general of New York, nobody is above the law.

LAWRENCE: Cuomo was alluding to the many allegations of sexual misconduct by President Donald Trump, but that shot likely bounced off on a day when Trump's allies celebrated the downfall of Schneiderman, who had been a prominent Trump critic. For supporters of the #MeToo movement, the reaction was more ambivalent. Sonia Ossorio leads the National Organization for Women chapter in New York. She was shocked and disheartened because Shneiderman had been a political ally but...

SONIA OSSORIO: An abusive man cannot be a top elected leader in New York. Things are moving in the right direction.

LAWRENCE: Ossorio says she's optimistic that the stigma of reporting this kind of abuse is falling away and the perpetrators' days are numbered. Quil Lawrence, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Quil Lawrence is a New York-based correspondent for NPR News, covering veterans' issues nationwide. He won a Robert F. Kennedy Award for his coverage of American veterans and a Gracie Award for coverage of female combat veterans. In 2019 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America honored Quil with its IAVA Salutes Award for Leadership in Journalism.