Former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will not face criminal charges over allegations that he physically abused several women, according to a statement from Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas.
Singas was tapped by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in May to investigate Schneiderman after several women claimed that he physically abused them and then used the power of his office to keep them silent.
In a statement, Singas said that she put together a deep bench of prosecutors and investigators to handle the case and that she “personally interviewed each of the women who cooperated with our investigation along with their attorneys.” She also interviewed members of Schneiderman’s security detail, Attorney General’s Office employees and potential witnesses.
She said that she believed all the women that shared their stories with her but said that “legal impediments, including statutes of limitations, preclude criminal prosecution.”
Attached with her statement was proposed legislation to “strengthen laws that protect victims from sexually-motivated violence.”
The release said that the proposed law would “fill a gap” in the state rules that would prosecute a perpetrator who slaps, punches, shoves or kicks another person, without consent, for sexual gratification, when evidence of injury does not meet the definition of New York’s definitions for statutory and case law.
“This new misdemeanor-level offense will afford law enforcement an additional tool to protect victims of domestic abuse, and I encourage the legislature to pass this bill next session,” Singas said.
The new law would make this a class A misdemeanor, with a two-year statute of limitations and those convicted could face up to a year in jail.
Shortly after Singas sent out her press release, Schneiderman put out a statement of his own.
“I recognize that District Attorney Singas’ decision not to prosecute does not mean I have done nothing wrong,” Schneiderman said. “I accept full responsibility for my conduct in my relationships with my accusers, and for the impact it had on them. After spending time in a rehab facility, I am committed to a lifelong path of recovery and making amends to those I have harmed. I apologize for any and all pain that I have caused, and I apologize to the people of the State of New York for disappointing them after they put their trust in me.”
Schneiderman promptly ended his seven-year reign as attorney general after an article published in the New Yorker claimed that he physically abused several women. A day after leaving office, Singas was tapped to lead the investigation.
Singas was a founding member of the domestic violence bureau at the Queens district attorney’s office in 1991. During his press conference announcing his selection, Cuomo said that her experience in the area is why he chose her to lead the investigation.
Activist Michelle Manning Barish, one of the women in the New Yorker who accused Schneiderman of assault, said on Twitter that she appreciated Singas’ statement and felt “completed vindicated” by Schneiderman’s admission that he engaged in abuse.
“This is a victory for all women but we need more than words,” she wrote. “A crucial next step will be for Schneiderman to turn over all campaign contributions — which we understand to be over $8.5 M — to groups that combat sexual violence against women and protect those who are harmed.”
Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.