Political News

Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax faces second sexual assault allegation

Posted February 8, 2019 4:54 p.m. EST
Updated February 8, 2019 10:52 p.m. EST

— A second woman has come forward to say that she was raped by Democratic Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax when they attended Duke University in 2000.

In a statement though her attorney, accuser Meredith Watson said that she and Fairfax were friends, but the two never dated or had a romantic relationship. In the statement, Watson described the attack against her as "premeditated and aggressive."

"Ms. Watson was upset to learn that Mr. Fairfax raped at least one other woman after he attacked her. The details of Ms. Watson's attack are similar to those described by Dr. Vanessa Tyson," Watson's attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, said in a written statement.

In a statement Friday, Fairfax maintained his innocence and said he does not plan to resign.

"I deny this latest unsustained allegation. It is demonstrably false. I have never forced myself on anyone, ever," he said. "I demand a full investigation into these unsubstantiated and false allegations. Such an investigation will confirm my account because I am telling the truth."

Tyson said she was sexually assaulted by Fairfax in 2004 but, as of Wednesday, said that she would not be pressing charges.

"What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault. Mr. Fairfax put his hand behind my neck and forcefully pushed my head towards his crotch. Only then did I realize that he had unbuckled his belt, unzipped his pants, and taken out his penis. He then forced his penis into my mouth," Tyson said in a statement.

Tyson's allegation first became public Sunday evening on the conservative website Big League Politics. Fairfax has denied the allegation and called the 2004 interaction, which both say took place in Boston at the Democratic National Convention, "100% consensual."

Tyson said Wednesday that she released the statement about the encounter to set the record straight and that she does not want to get "further embroiled" in the political situation.

Smith said Friday that Watson has shared her account of the sexual assault in emails and Facebook messages to friends and statements from her former classmates corroborate the fact that Watson reported the rape to friends immediately after the incident occurred.

"At this time, Ms. Watson is reluctantly coming forward out of a strong sense of civic duty and her belief that those seeking or serving in public office should be of the highest character. She has no interest in becoming a media personality or reliving the trauma that has greatly affected her life. Similarly, she is not seeking any financial damages," Smith wrote.

Smith said that, prior to the alleged 2000 assault, Watson told Fairfax that she had been the victim of a previous sexual assault by an unidentified Duke basketball player.

"Mr. Fairfax actually used the prior rape of his 'friend' against her when he chose to rape her in a premeditated way," Smith said in a second written statement Friday night.

Fairfax on Friday called the allegations from Watson and Tyson a "vicious and coordinated smear campaign."

"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.