New York’s former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will not face criminal charges following allegations from four women that he assaulted them – a string of accusations that led to his abrupt resignation in May, the prosecutor charged with investigating the incidents announced today.
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In statement in response to the announcement, Schneiderman, who spent time in a rehabilitation facility after resigning, said that he recognizes that “the decision not to prosecute does not mean I have done nothing wrong,” and reiterated what he has said before – that he takes “full responsibility for my conduct.”
Schneiderman resigned only hours after the New Yorker magazine published the claims, each of which came from women whom he had been romantically involved with at the time.
“Following an exhaustive review, evaluation of the facts, the law, and applicable statutes of limitations, I have concluded our investigation into the allegations of physical abuse allegedly committed by former New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman without criminal charges,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas wrote in a statement released this morning.
Seth Wenig/APNew York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks at a news conference in New York, Sept. 6, 2017.
Singas stressed in her statement that she believed the women who made accusations against Schneiderman, citing “legal impediments” to successful prosecution as a reason for choosing not to file criminal charges.
I believe the women who shared their experiences with our investigation team, however legal impediments, including statutes of limitations, preclude criminal prosecution. Our investigation also highlighted deficiencies in New York law for which I have drafted remedial legislation.
Singas also stressed that she had relied on both a team of seasoned special victims’ investigators and prosecutors, and her own interviews with the women who cooperated with her investigation and their attorneys.
Additionally, she wrote in the statement, “Our team interviewed members of Mr. Schneiderman’s security detail, employees of the Office of the Attorney General, potential witnesses identified during the pendency of our investigation, and we followed-up on each call to the tip line we established for this matter.”
For his part, Schneiderman released a statement reiterating that, “I accept full responsibility for my conduct in my relationships with my accusers, and for the impact it had on them.”
Schneiderman continued: “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.”
The investigation found no misconduct by Mr. Schneiderman’s staff in the Office of the Attorney General, according to Singas.
How the story broke
The New Yorker and The New York Times had been racing for weeks to report and confirm the story and, by last week, Schneiderman’s camp was quietly talking about the ongoing reporting, according to people directly involved in the discussions.
Schneiderman insiders had no clue about the details, the individuals told ABC News, noting that some acknowledged that Schneiderman drank heavily at times but they did not know anything about his sex life.
Schneiderman’s inner circle is an amalgam of liberal Democratic staffers who have, at various points, worked for Hillary Clinton, Gov. Cuomo, Sen. Chuck Schumer, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg and the Democratic National Committee.
As the day began Monday, hours before The New Yorker story was published, there was little to suggest events would roll out as they did.
By mid-afternoon, a detailed list of questions had come in from The New Yorker and Schneiderman, his ex-wife and consultant Jennifer Cunningham and other key people were on a series of conference calls going through possible responses.
This went on for hours. They discussed whether any of the assertions could be denied. They considered whether to announce the Attorney General was heading to a rehabilitation program.
One person suggested denying something that seemed true and the group advised against lying, the individuals with knowledge of the discussions told ABC News.
The first public statement – in which Schneiderman denied assaulting anyone but said that he “engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity” — was issued in an effort to stanch the bleeding while holding back some material that might be suitable for second- or third-day statements, the individuals said.
As the evening progressed, there was no thought about the blow that might come. Schneiderman and Cuomo have disliked each other for quite some time — a sentiment that only grew when Cuomo ascended to his current post, leaving Schneiderman to replace him as attorney general, the individuals said.
Schneiderman and Cunningham didn’t consider that the governor, now facing his own re-election and nervous about a challenge from the left by actress Cynthia Nixon, might throw him to the wolves, the individuals said.
Then, as the group was on yet another conference call, Cuomo’s office issued the call for Schneiderman’s resignation.
“What does this mean?” one person asked on the phone. The answer came fast: “You resign,” the individuals recounted to ABC News.