RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is denying an uncorroborated allegation of sexual misconduct first reported by a conservative website that also published a racist photo from Gov. Ralph Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook page.
During a press conference on Monday afternoon, Fairfax said that the 2004 encounter with a woman was consensual and he called the accusation of misconduct “a smear.”
“Does anybody think it’s a coincidence that on the eve of my potentially being elevated that this uncorroborated smear comes out?” Fairfax asked.
The Washington Post said Monday that it was approached by the woman in 2017, carefully investigated, but never published the accusation.
The Post said the woman had not told anyone about it, the account could not be corroborated, Fairfax denied it and the Post was unable to find other allegations against him.
“We hit it off, she was very interested in me. Eventually, at one point, we ended up going to my hotel room.” Fairfax told reporters. “She was very much into a consensual encounter, that she even admits in the story there’s consensual activity going on.”
“Then again, I have children, so I am going to circumspect about what I say. But everything was a 100 percent consensual that the same person called me sometime later and wanted to meet with me, wanted to come visit me — I was still in law school at Columbia Law School — wanted to come to New York City to meet with me, wanted me to meet her mother,” Fairfax added.
Fairfax released a statement around 3 a.m. Monday:
Tonight, an online publication released a false and unsubstantiated allegation against Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax.
Lt. Governor Fairfax has an outstanding and well-earned reputation for treating people with dignity and respect. He has never assaulted anyone — ever — in any way, shape, or form.
The person reported to be making this false allegation first approached The Washington Post—one of the nation’s most prominent newspapers— more than a year ago, around the time of the Lieutenant Governor’s historic inauguration. The Post carefully investigated the claim for several months. After being presented with facts consistent with the Lt. Governor’s denial of the allegation, the absence of any evidence corroborating the allegation, and significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegation, the Post made the considered decision not to publish the story.
Tellingly, not one other reputable media outlet has seen fit to air this false claim. Only now, at a time of intense media attention surrounding Virginia politics, has this false claim been raised again.
This is part of the sad and dark politics that the Lt. Governor has dedicated himself to helping Virginia and the nation rise above.
The Lt. Governor will take appropriate legal action against those attempting to spread this defamatory and false allegation.
Fairfax would become Virginia governor if Northam were to resign or be ousted in the scandal over a racist photo on his page in his medical school yearbook.
In an earlier statement, Fairfax said the state needs leaders who can unite people, but he stopped short of calling for Northam’s departure. Fairfax echoed that statement during Monday’s press conference.
“I believe the governor has to make a decision that is in the best interest of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Fairfax said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.