RICHMOND, VA — Political waves threatening the future of Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax became more treacherous Friday when a second woman accused him of sexual assault. Meredith Watson released a statement through a law firm saying he raped her in 2000 while they were both students at Duke University. Fairfax, in turn, called the latest allegation part of “a vicious and coordinated smear campaign,” and five members of the state’s Congressional delegation called his response vile.
In the statement, she said the “attack was premeditated and aggressive.” Watson, who according to the Washington Post is a Maryland woman, said she immediately shared her account of the incident, and the law firm said it has statements from former classmates corroborating as much.
She said she reluctantly came forward out of sense of civic duty, and hopes Fairfax will “resign from public office.”
That, Fairfax stressed, is not going to happen. “I will not resign,” he said in the statement. “. . .I demand a full investigation into these unsubstantiated and false allegations. Such an investigation will confirm my account because I am telling the truth.”
Earlier this week, a woman who accused Fairfax of sexually assaulting her in 2004 released a statement refuting his assertion that the incident at the Democratic National Convention in Boston was consensual. Rather, Vanessa Tyson said consensual kissing turned into unwanted oral sex.
Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Fairfax must give up his office.
“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,” McAuliffe said on Twitter.
Late Friday night, U.S. Senator and former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine followed suit, saying in a statement: “Lieutenant Governor Fairfax should resign. The allegations against him detail atrocious crimes, and he can no longer effectively serve the Commonwealth. We cannot ever ignore or tolerate sexual assault.”
Virginia Democratic Representatives Don Beyer, Abigail Spanberger, Elaine Luria, Jennifer Wexton, and Gerry Connolly said in a joint statement Friday that Fairfax must resign, along with embattled Gov. Ralph Northam, accused of racist behavior in college.
“We believe Dr. Vanessa Tyson. We found her account compelling and highly credible. The central issue at the heart of her account is consent, and there can be no better authority to decide whether it was given than Dr. Tyson herself. Meredith Watson’s statement describes another extremely disturbing incident, which lends further credence to Dr. Tyson’s story,” the members of Congress said. “The Lieutenant Governor of Virginia presides over the Virginia Senate and must be prepared to fill the role of Governor. It is unacceptable that either of these weighty responsibilities be entrusted to someone who has engaged in the behavior described by Dr. Tyson and Meredith Watson.
…”Lt. Governor Fairfax has also shown exceptionally poor judgment in his handling of these allegations. He repeatedly attacked his accuser, he reportedly used vile and degrading language to describe her, he mischaracterized an investigation into the encounter, and he sought to blame others for events in his own past,” the Democrats said. “For these reasons we believe that Justin Fairfax cannot continue to serve at Lt. Governor Of Virginia, and should step aside.”
The latest allegation is yet another hit for Virginia’s political establishment. Attorney General Mark Herring said Wednesday he wore blackface at a college party in 1980, and Gov. Northam is fighting to keep his job following apologies and then denials that he had once worn the racially demeaning blackface in his college days.
As for Fairfax, his troubles began with the first accuser: “As I cried and gagged, Mr. Fairfax forced me to perform oral sex on him,” Tyson said in her statement. “I cannot believe, given my obvious distress, that Mr. Fairfax thought this forced sexual act was consensual. . . I consciously avoided Mr. Fairfax for the rest of the Convention and I never spoke to him again.”
Earlier Wednesday, Fairfax issued his own statement that contradicts that of Tyson, who’s a fellow and Stanford University and associate professor at Scripps College, according to the Washington Post.
“At no time did she express to me any discomfort or concern about our interactions, neither during that encounter, nor during the months following it, when she stayed in touch with me, nor the past fifteen years,” Fairfax said. “She in no way indicated that anything that had happened between us made her uncomfortable.”
Tyson initially brought her allegations to the Post after the 2017 election, but the newspaper says it didn’t run a story because it couldn’t corroborate her account. Fairfax said he met with Post representatives at the time and “told them all I knew about the encounter and responded to all of their questions.”
Fairfax added that “I (don’t) wish to denigrate her or diminish her voice (but) I cannot agree with a description of events that I know is not true.”
Photo: Justin Fairfax Lieutenant Governor website