Letters reveal lawmakers’ division on hearing into Fairfax allegations


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — House Republicans in Virginia have urged Democratic leadership to hold hearings on the sexual assault allegations made against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax during the special legislative session on gun control scheduled for July. In their response, House Democrats said they have offered multiple opportunities to discuss a bipartisan effort, but they will not take part in “political games.” 

In February, two different women accused Fairfax of sexually assaulting them before he was elected as Virginia’s lieutenant governor. Lawyers for both women, Dr. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson, have both called on hearings to be held in the General Assembly.  

Del. Robert B. Bell sent a letter to House Minority Leader Del. Eileen Filler-Corn Monday asking for the hearings to take place during the special session in July. Del. Bell writes, “I wish to renew my offer for truly bipartisan hearings.” 

“I write to you once again following the pleas from Dr. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson to testify concerning what happened to them and giving them a public forum in which to be heard,” Del. Bell wrote. 

Del. Filler-Corn responded to Del. Bell in a letter of her own Tuesday. In the letter, Filler-Corn cited several attempts from Democrats to communicate with Republicans on conducting a bipartisan hearing. 

“Since February, House Democrats have made multiple attempts to negotiate with House Republicans in a good faith, bipartisan effort. Each time, House Republicans have manipulated the situation into a political show, choosing to respond in press conferences and media statements rather than directly to us,” Filler-Corn wrote. 

Lauren Burke, Lt. Gov. Fairfax’s spokesperson, sent 8News a statement regarding the latest calls from Virginia’s Republicans for a legislative hearing into the allegations. Burke repeated calls for criminal investigations to be opened into the allegations and questioned the motive behind House Republicans renewed calls for a hearing. 

“A Republican show trial during an election year is not an investigation that will reveal the truth. Speaker Cox and Del. Rob Bell’s goals are to embarrass the Democratic party in an election year and avoid talking about reducing gun violence and the NRA’s control over the GOP,” the statement read. 

The full statement from Fairfax’s office can be found below: 

Nancy Erika Smith does not want a law enforcement investigation even though her client, Ms. Meredith Watson, is alleging two rapes at Duke University twenty years ago. Both allegations should be fully investigated by the District Attorney and the police in Durham, NC. Ms. Smith knows that a law enforcement investigation will uncover facts about her client’s allegations that will exonerate the Lt. Governor which is why they are avoiding one. If the clients of Ms. Katz and Ms. Smith wish to testify under oath why not testify under oath in Boston and Durham to law enforcement? As widely reported, Debra Katz already contacted the Boston DA on behalf of her client back in February on this matter.”

“The Lt. Governor was interviewed about these allegations by the same polygraph expert that Debra Katz previously has hired and relied upon, and he passed both polygraphs. Those results were confirmed by a second national expert on polygraphs. The counsel for the accusers now suddenly dismiss polygraph results as inadmissible in court but ignore the fact that, as stated in our letter to the prosecutors in Durham and Boston, ‘while polygraph results are not typically admissible in court, they are frequently relied upon by the Department of Justice and other law enforcement and national security agencies in investigations and other matters where determining whether someone is telling the truth is of paramount importance.’ This is exactly why Debra Katz has relied on them in the past.”

“Additionally, Ms. Katz and Ms. Smith both have previously demanded law enforcement investigations into allegations of sexual assault, most notably during the confirmation hearings involving Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Ms. Smith referred to the proposed legislative hearing in that matter as a ‘GOP Kangaroo Court,’ decried rushing the fact-finding process, and noted that it was ‘a crime to lie to the FBI.’  Yet, now the same counsel want no law enforcement investigation into the allegations of their clients, Dr. Tyson and Ms. Watson. Virginians see right through this blatant hypocrisy and political game-playing.”

“A Republican show trial during an election year is not an investigation that will reveal the truth. Speaker Cox and Del. Rob Bell’s goals are to embarrass the Democratic party in an election year and avoid talking about reducing gun violence and the NRA’s control over the GOP.  ‪On July 9‬, we will discuss issues of public safety in the aftermath of the murders of 12 people in Virginia Beach. It’s shameful that Republican leaders are dodging a discussion that would save lives in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

“Del. Rob Bell has spent his entire legislative career pushing the goals of law enforcement and prosecutors. It is beyond time for him to stop playing political games and insulting the intelligence of Virginians and for him to encourage prosecutors in Boston and Durham to do a full, fair, and non-political investigation. That is the path to the truth.”

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