Second woman accuses Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault
A woman said Friday that Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax had raped her nearly two decades ago.
Lawyers for that woman, Meredith Watson, made the accusation in a statement that also called on Fairfax to resign from office.
Another woman, California university professor Vanessa Tyson, had recently accused Fairfax of sexual assault in an incident nearly 15 years earlier.
Fairfax has unequivocally denied Tyson’s accusation, and denied the new accusation from Watson in a statement.
“I deny this latest unsubstantiated allegation. It is demonstrably false. I have never forced myself on anyone ever,” Fairfax said.
“I demand a full investigation into these unsubstantiated and false allegations,” he said. “Such an investigation will confirm my account because I am telling the truth.”
“I will clear my good name and I have nothing to hide. I have passed two full field background checks by the FBI and run for office in two highly contested elections with nothing like this being raised before,” he said.
“It is obvious that a vicious and coordinated smear campaign is being orchestrated against me,” Fairfax said, adding, “I will not resign.”
Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe called for Fairfax to resign in a tweet Friday afternoon.
McAuliffe TWEET The allegations against Justin Fairfax are serious and credible. It is clear to me that he can no longer effectively serve the people of Virginia as Lieutenant Governor. I call for his immediate resignation.
Watson’s statement claims she was raped by Fairfax in 2000 in a “premeditated and aggressive” attack while they were both students at Duke University. The two were friends, but had never been romantically involved, according to the statement.
Watson’s decision to come forward was spurred by “a strong sense of civic duty and her belief that those seeking or serving in public office should be of the highest character,” her lawyers said in the document.
She is not seeking any money in damages, the statement claims.
A New York Times reporter said in a tweet that Watson has been employed as a “fundraising consultant.”
Joanthan Martin TWEET Watson was a year below Fairfax at Duke. She has worked as a fund-raising consultant. Kessler, her spokesperson, has done a good bit of work with Watson’s attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, on sexual misconduct cases.
Tyson, a politics professor at Scripps College in California, alleged that Fairfax had forced her to engage in oral sex with him in 2004, after they first engaged in “consensual kissing” in his hotel room in Boston.
Fairfax has said the encounter was consensual — a claim Tyson rejects — and that her accusation “simply is not true.”
The accusations against Fairfax are far from the only scandal roiling Virginia’s Democratic leadership.
The state’s governor, Ralph Northam, was hit with calls for his resignation from Republicans and Democrats alike after it was revealed that Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook page included a racist photo of a person in blackface next to another person wearing a KKK hood.
Northam reportedly told his staff Friday that he will not resign over the controversy. If he did resign from office, Fairfax would be next in the line of succession to fill his spot.
The next person in the line of succession after Fairfax, Attorney General Mark Herring, admitted that he, too, wore blackface at a college party in 1980.
“Honest conversations and discussions will make it clear whether I can or should continue to serve as attorney general,” Herring said Wednesday.
If all three Democratic leaders resigned, then Republican Kirk Cox, the speaker of the House of Delegates, would become governor.
Read the full statement from Meredith Watson here.