NEW YORK – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed Nassau County District Attorney and Greek-American Madeline Singas as the Special Prosecutor to investigate allegations against former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on May 8 and just a day later, legal experts began voicing their reservations about the case, Newsday reported.
Singas faces “many legal, political and logistical obstacles,” the report said, noting that the allegations that Schneiderman physically abused four women date back to 2013, so there may be a time limit concerning criminal charges. “The statute of limitations for misdemeanors in New York is two years, and five years for many felonies,” Newsday reported, adding that, “the incidents outlined in The New Yorker occurred between 2013 and 2017” and that “it still must be determined how and if they translate into criminal charges.”
The New Yorker broke the story of the alleged abuse of four women who had been involved with Schneiderman which led to his resignation. He denied any wrongdoing, however, and said “I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in nonconsensual sex, which is a line I would not cross,” Newsday reported.
Singas released a statement saying, “The governor asked me to investigate these allegations as a special prosecutor, which is a responsibility I take very seriously. We will thoroughly review the facts and the law and take whatever action is appropriate. But because this is a sensitive and ongoing investigation, I cannot comment on the substance of our review,” Newsday reported.
Among those commenting on the challenges, Eugene O’Donnell, former police officer and now a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told Newsday that “Singas will also have to gain the cooperation of the NYPD and Manhattan prosecutors because some of the assaults allegedly took place in Manhattan.”
“These types of cases have a lot of emotion and feelings are very raw,” O’Donnell told Newsday, “And the expectations to bring charges, some of which may not be prosecutable, are very high. Singas was handed a high-profile, hot potato case in which she is going to have to reinvent the wheel to some extent.”
Professor Ellen Yaroshefsky teaches legal ethics at Hofstra University and told Newwsday, “The credibility of the witnesses is critical in ‘he said/she said’ cases,” adding that “this will be a very interesting case.”
Defense attorney Isabelle Kirshner has been hired to represent Schneiderman, she said, “We are at the very beginning of what will likely be a long and detailed investigation. It’s difficult to predict at this point what will happen,” Newsday reported. Schneiderman is also being investigated by Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini concerning a 2016 incident when the former Attorney General allegedly slapped a woman at a house in the Hamptons, Newsday reported adding that “the existing probes will be consolidated and funneled through Singas, officials said” and “Singas will work with Sini to investigate” that incident as well.
Concerning the cost of the investigation, Newsday reported that “Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said the state will provide resources to Singas ‘as needed.’”