NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday evening called on Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas—not Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr.—to investigate assault allegations against former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
In a letter to Acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood, Cuomo called on Singas to be designated a special prosecutor to investigate the women's claims and that Singas' jurisdiction would "supersede" the jurisdiction of the Manhattan DA because of "at a minimum, an appearance of a conflict of interest with the Attorney General's Office, which is currently investigating the relationship and actions between DANY and the New York Police Department and their handling of alleged illegal acts including sexual harassment and assault, by producer Harvey Weinstein."
The New Yorker article included graphic details of Schneiderman's alleged psychological, verbal, and emotional abuse that included threats of surveillance and worse if the women he was seeing romantically tried to leave him.
In a statement, Schneiderman said that he never assaulted anyone and that he engaged in consensual "role playing" with the women but didn't elaborate.
Earlier Tuesday, Police Commissioner James O'Neill called the allegations "very serious" and told reporters that the NYPD would work with Manhattan DA's office to reach out to alleged victims and "see if and what charges he'll face."
But Cuomo's letter states that Singas should investigate and that the acting attorney general would then determine if Schneiderman should face criminal charges.
"There can be no suggestion of any possibility of the reality or appearance of any conflict or anything less than a full, complete and unbiased investigation," Cuomo wrote.
Vance responded with a letter to Cuomo saying whatever perceived conflict exists is the governor's doing.
"However, the only potential conflict here is one of your creation: your recent directive that the AG's office review, among other things, a 2015 investigation of Harvey Weinstein by my office and the NYPD," Vance wrote to Cuomo. "As I made clear to your office at the time, this review is an unwarranted intrusion by an elected executive into a charging decision by an independent prosecutor."
Singas, in a statement, said she would "vigorously investigate" the allegations.
"We will thoroughly review the facts and the law and take whatever action is appropriate," she said. "But because this is a sensitive and ongoing investigation, I cannot comment on the substance of our review."