- The Virginia Democratic Party said it’s “evaluating” an allegation of sexual assault made against Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.
- Vanessa Tyson, an associate professor of politics at Scripps College in Southern California, accused Fairfax of sexually assaulting her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention – a claim that Fairfax denies.
- “All allegations of sexual assault deserve to be taken with profound gravity. We will continue to evaluate the situation regarding Lieutenant Governor Fairfax,” the Party said in a Tuesday statement.
The Virginia Democratic Party said it’s “evaluating” an allegation of sexual assault made against Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.
Vanessa Tyson, an associate professor of politics at Scripps College in Southern California, has accused Fairfax of sexually assaulting her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. A source close to Tyson’s legal team gave permission to NBC News to publish Tyson’s name on Tuesday.
“All allegations of sexual assault deserve to be taken with profound gravity. We will continue to evaluate the situation regarding Lieutenant Governor Fairfax,” the Party said in a statement to New York Times reporter Trip Gabriel.
On Tuesday, Tyson hired lawyers at the law firm Katz, Marshall & Banks – the same team that represented Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, NPR reported. Fairfax has threatened to sue “people who continue to spread these false allegations.”
Fairfax, 39, denied the claim in a Monday morning statement after a Facebook post Tyson wrote about the alleged incident was reported by the right-wing website Big League Politics.
Later on Monday, Fairfax, who has repeatedly denied Tyson’s claim, called it a “smear.” He suggested that Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, who might run for governor in 2021, was behind the claim. Stoney called the suggestion false and “offensive.”
“Does anybody think it’s any coincidence that on the eve of potentially my being elevated that that’s when this smear comes out?” he told reporters in the state Capitol rotunda.
Tyson told The Post that after accompanying Fairfax to his hotel room and consensually kissing him, Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him. Later on Monday, Fairfax told reporters that the accusation is a “totally fabricated story out of the blue” and called his sexual encounter with Tyson “100% consensual.”
“We hit it off, she was very interested in me, and so eventually, at one point, we ended up going to my hotel room,” Fairfax said of his encounter with Tyson.
Fairfax’s aides said that the Washington Post had investigated Tyson’s claims in early 2018, around the time of Fairfax’s inauguration, but wasn’t able to find corroborating evidence.
In a Monday story, The Post said its reporters had not encountered “significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegations,” as Fairfax’s team said it had.
Fairfaxwould become governor if embattled Gov. Ralph Northam resigns following the surfacing of a racist photo on Northam’s medical school yearbook page, where he is allegedly either dressed in blackface or a Ku Klux Klan-style costume.
“Lt. Gov. Fairfax is a public official who may well rise to the position of governor,” The Post’s executive editor, Martin Baron, said in a statement. “He began the morning by issuing a statement regarding allegations against him, making specific representations about Post reporting that had not resulted in publication. We then had an obligation to clarify the nature of both the allegations and our reporting.”
In a Monday night statement to INSIDER, Fairfax’s spokeswoman Lauren Burke accused The Post of having “smeared an elected official” by disputing his claims.
“This type of smear is what we meant when we said that politics and the coverage of it needs to rise to a higher level that befits our country and the 400-year history of our Commonwealth,” Burke said in the statement.
“We ask further: What other major elected official in the Commonwealth of Virginia would be smeared with sexual allegations that were presented without corroboration?”