(AP) — The woman whose sexual assault allegations against Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax surfaced this week is speaking publicly about the encounter.
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has repeatedly denied her allegations, saying the encounter was consensual.
Vanessa Tyson issued a statement Wednesday saying Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex in 2004 during the Democratic National Convention in Boston. The Associated Press typically does not identify those who say they were sexually assaulted, but Tyson issued the statement in her name.
Earlier Wednesday, Fairfax issued a statement saying the woman expressed no discomfort at the time, or during the years afterward. He said he first heard about her accusation from a reporter in 2018.
Tyson said she went to Fairfax’s hotel room so he could get documents. She said they began consensually kissing but he then forced her into oral sex. She said she couldn’t move her head because he was holding down her neck.
“On the night of Friday, February 1, 2019, I read multiple news accounts indicating that
Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax would likely be elevated to Governor as an immediate result
of a scandal involving Governor Ralph Northam,” Tyson said. “This news flooded me with painful memories, bringing back feelings of grief, shame, and anger that stemmed from an incident with Mr. Fairfax that occurred in July 2004 during the Democratic National Convention in Boston.”
CLICK HERE to read Dr. Vanessa Tyson’s full statement.
Rep. Jennifer Wexton, Virginia’s 10th Congressional District representative, tweeted her support for Dr. Tyson on Wednesday.
ABC News reported Wednesday night that Professor Tyson told Rep. Bobby Scott, Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District representative, about the allegations against Lt. Gov. Fairfax over a year ago.
Tyson, an associate professor in politics at Scripps College in California, is on a yearlong fellowship at Stanford University, where she’s studying the political discourse of sexual assault. She is slated to lead a symposium there next week titled: “Betrayal and Courage in the Age of #MeToo.”
In a 2007 YouTube video, Tyson talks about her work at a Boston rape crisis center, about being a victim of incest at age 8 and about the importance of sexual assault victims coming forward.
“People don’t want to hear the message — so we just have to get a little louder,” Tyson said. “Build the numbers, keep the message going — do what we have to do until they start seeing us.”
Since the #MeToo movement emerged, Tyson has been frequently quoted as an expert about the intersection of politics and sexual assault and harassment claims, including the allegations by multiple women that triggered the 2017 resignation of Sen. Al Franken, the Minnesota Democrat.
Tyson this week hired the same Washington law firm that represented Christine Blasey Ford, the California psychology professor who accused then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her. He denied the accusation.
During the Kavanaugh hearings last fall, Tyson posted on Twitter: “Sending love to all the survivors out there whose rapists/assailants called it ‘consensual’ and whose society privileges an old boys club over all else.”