Lt. Gov. Fairfax reiterates call for investigation into sexual assault allegations

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC/AP) — Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax has released results of a polygraph test that he claims clears him of sexual assault allegations made against him by two women earlier this year.

Speaking to reporters for the first time since the legislative session wrapped up in February, Fairfax reiterated Wednesday morning that the allegations are untrue and the sexual encounters he had with both women were consensual.

Fairfax read from a prepared statement Wednesday morning inside the Capitol and did not answer any questions from the media.

The Lt. Gov. said his lawyer has contacted prosecutors in Boston and Durham, North Carolina, where the women say the assaults took place, and have asked them to investigate the allegations, Fairfax said. He said he would cooperate fully with the investigations.

“I knew that the allegations against me were false from the moment I first heard them,” he said.

Fairfax said he is confident the investigations will reach the same conclusions as a polygraph test he said he’s releasing Wednesday that showed he is innocent.

Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson leveled their accusations against Fairfax in February. Tyson says Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex in 2004. Watson says Fairfax raped her in 2000 when both were students at Duke University.

After Fairfax’s appearance on Wednesday, Dr. Tyson’s lawyers released a statement calling on lawmakers to hold a bipartisan hearing. 

“Given the General Assembly’s inaction, Dr. Tyson decided to appear and answer questions about the incident in a national television interview,” the statement read in part. 

“We hope that the General Assembly and Lt. Governor Fairfax will agree to hold an open, fair hearing where all parties can come forward to provide information about this matter.” 

The allegations against Fairfax surfaced at a moment when he seemed poised to ascend to the governor’s post. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was facing numerous calls to resign after a racist photo showing a person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan costume was found on his medical school yearbook page.

Fairfax addressed in detail his encounter with both women. You can watch his press conference or read a transcript of the statement he read Wednesday below:

Statement of Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax

April 3, 2019
 
Over the past 48 hours, two women have spoken on national television about allegations they have made against me based on events of nearly 15 and 20 years ago.

These allegations, if true, would be incredibly serious. Because they are not true, however, they are incredibly hurtful to me and my family and my reputation, which I have spent a lifetime building.

I believe that anyone willing to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct should be heard fairly and fully, taken seriously, and treated respectfully.  It is very important for truth to be established and, where sexual assault has, in fact, occurred, for resources and assistance to be provided to survivors.

As the person accused, I also deserve to be treated fairly, seriously, and respectfully. A just society requires fairness and due process.

In that regard, I do not believe that national television appearances or legislative hearings are the right vehicles to get at the truth. Sensationalizing allegations does not make them true. Yet, airing salacious allegations without evidence does enormous damage.

In an effort to ensure that there is a fair, serious, and respectful process, I have taken two steps that I believe will help provide clarity.

First, as described further below, I voluntarily submitted to a polygraph test by a nationally-respected polygrapher with regard to the allegations of each accuser. I passed each of those tests on the first try. Today, I am providing the full report of the polygraph expert.

Second, also as described further below, my attorney has at my direction requested that the prosecutors in Boston, Massachusetts, and Durham, North Carolina, launch an investigation of these allegations and offered my full cooperation. I will answer any and all questions. I am willing to do so under oath and under penalty of perjury.
 
———–
 Over the years, I have built a reputation as a committed public servant.  Both as a federal prosecutor and as Lieutenant Governor, I have stood up for women and for victims of criminal behavior.

Make no mistake. If the facts alleged by Dr. Tyson and Ms. Watson were true, the conduct would be criminal.  Such conduct is against everything I stand for in both my public and private life.

In my 40 years, no one has ever alleged that I have ever done anything like what either of these women describe, allegations that were both first made public at the very moment that it appeared that I might become Governor of this great Commonwealth.

While these allegations simply are not true, I cannot begin to tell you the pain that these false allegations have caused me and my family.

My family and the life we have built together mean the world to me.  It pains me more than I can express for my wife and young children to have to hear these false allegations.

I do not want these false allegations to give reason for Virginians to doubt my ability to serve them effectively.

I have asked for this opportunity to speak today because I want the people of Virginia who honored me by electing me as their Lieutenant Governor to know that your trust was not misplaced.

That is why I must take additional steps to clear my name.  I am here today to make sure that people hear about what actually occurred.


————–
Many years ago, when I was 25 years old and Dr. Tyson was 28 years old, I had a consensual encounter with Vanessa Tyson.  

Years before that, when I was in college, I had a consensual encounter with Meredith Watson.

First, let me speak to the allegation by Vanessa Tyson.

In 2004, during the summer while I was still a student in law school, I was on the staff of Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, who was the Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States.  I traveled with Senator Edwards to the Democratic National Convention in Boston.  

While Dr. Tyson has stated definitively that she met, interacted, and had a conversation with me in Boston on July 26, 2004, the first day of the Convention; in fact, Senator Edwards and I were not in Boston on that date.  We did not arrive in Boston from North Carolina until the following day.

After I arrived, I met Dr. Tyson, who was a volunteer at the Convention.  As young adults and students we spent time together talking.  I invited her to my hotel room, where we engaged in completely consensual activity.    

I have heard Dr. Tyson say that I held her neck and physically forced her to engage in sexual contact. That is simply is not true.  What she alleged never happened. At no time did I force any contact.

She has also said that she was visibly upset and crying.  That is also is not true.    At no time was she crying or did she express any concern, reluctance, or discomfort.  Her demeanor never changed throughout the encounter. We engaged in friendly banter after leaving the room.

Dr. Tyson has said that after our encounter, we had no further contact.  This, too, is not true.  In fact, she reached out to me more than once after the Convention had ended.  We spoke several times in the weeks after the Convention.

At one point, she left me a message asking me if she could come visit me in New York City, where I had returned to school at Columbia Law School, and even invited me to meet her mother.  I did not respond and our relationship did not continue. Through it all, I had no reason to believe that she felt that our interaction in Boston was in anything other than 100% consensual.
 
———–
With regard to Ms. Watson, I knew Meredith Watson when we were both in college at Duke University.  We had many mutual friends and saw each other often.  While she and I had never previously had a physical or romantic relationship, we were friendly with each other.

On one occasion late in my senior year in the year 2000, she initiated a consensual encounter with me. I did not rape or sexually assault Meredith Watson.  I did not lock the door, turn out the lights, hold her down, or use any physical force whatsoever. We were both willing participants.

After that encounter, I saw her on occasion when we were with mutual friends.  At no time, before, during, or after our encounter did she ever say or do anything that suggested to me in any way that she believed that she thought anything that happened between us was something she had not wanted or that she was uncomfortable with.  

She has alleged we later had a conversation about the encounter where I supposedly raised the fact that she had previously accused a Duke basketball player of raping her and therefore thought she would be too afraid to report another assault.  No version of that conversation ever occurred.  


————
I knew that the allegations made against me were false from the moment I first heard them. That is why I denied them.

Because I was confident that what I was saying was true, I voluntarily submitted to separate polygraph examinations with respect to the allegations made by Dr. Tyson and the allegations made by Ms. Watson.  I passed both tests on the first try.

When I announced that I had passed the polygraph examinations, people asked whether I was willing to release the full results to the world.  I am happy to do so.

Today, I am providing the full report of my polygraph examinations to the media, so that all Virginians can read the report themselves.  They will see that the accounts of what happened both with Dr. Tyson and with Ms. Watson that I have provided today are the same as what I said in the polygraph examinations. They will also see that the exams determined that I was telling the truth.  

But I have gone further than taking and passing polygraph examinations.  I have said from the beginning that the allegations made by Dr. Tyson and Ms. Watson are allegations of crimes and should be treated as such.

That is why I have repeatedly asked for an investigation by law enforcement professionals.

Because of the nature of these allegations, they should be assessed by professional law enforcement investigators who have the tools and the training to determine whether or not the allegations are true.  

Therefore, at my direction, my attorney has contacted the District Attorney’s Office in Boston, Massachusetts and the District Attorney’s Office in Durham, North Carolina.  Each would have jurisdiction over these alleged crimes.  My attorney has asked each Office to launch an investigation of these allegations if they have not already done so.

I am confident that these highly professional and experienced law enforcement Offices are committed to treating accusers fairly, seriously, and respectfully, while also treating the accused fairly and ascertaining the truth or falsity of these allegations.

My attorney has made clear to both Offices that I will cooperate fully in these investigations and has told each Office that I will make myself available to them to answer any and all questions they might have, including under oath and penalty of perjury.

When all of the facts and evidence are examined by unbiased law enforcement professionals, I am confident that they will reach the same conclusion that was reached by one of the leading polygraph experts in the country — that I am telling the truth.  I did not assault Vanessa Tyson.  I did not assault Meredith Watson.  

I look forward to clearing my good name.  More importantly, I look forward to being able to be a husband and father without having my loved ones read and hear false accusations about me.  

And, I look forward to going back to work for the people of Virginia, whom I am honored to serve.

I now going to continue to do my work as Lt. Governor and President of the Senate of Virginia.

Thank you for coming today. God bless you.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report

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