Another woman accuses Lt. Gov. Fairfax of sexual assault

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Another woman has come out with a sexual assault allegation against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, accusing Fairfax of raping her in 2000 while the two were students at Duke University. 

The woman, identified as Meredith Watson, released a statement through her attorney on Friday regarding the alleged incident. 

Ms. Watson’s allegation comes after another woman, Dr. Vanessa Tyson, issued a statement on Wednesday claiming Fairfax “forced her to perform oral sex” in 2004. 

According to the statement, Watson and Fairfax were friends at Duke University but “never dated or had any romantic relationship.” 

Ms. Watson’s attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, said in the statement that they have a series of Facebook messages and emails from Ms. Watson to her friends that detail the alleged rape. Her lawyers also said they have corroborating statements from former classmates that Ms. Watson told her friends about the incident immediately, according to the statement. 

The statement said that the details of Ms. Watson’s alleged attack, “are similar to those described by Dr. Vanessa Tyson.”  

Ms. Watson’s statement called for Lt. Gov. Fairfax’s resignation:  

At this time, Ms. Watson is reluctantly coming forward out of a strong sense of civic duty and her belief that those seeking or serving in public office should be of the highest character. She has no interest in becoming a media personality or reliving the trauma that has greatly affected her life. Similarly, she is not seeking any financial damages.

On behalf of our client, we have notified Justin Fairfax through his attorneys that Ms. Watson hopes he will resign from public office.”

Lt. Gov. Fairfax released a statement denying the allegations on Friday:

I deny this latest unsubstantiated allegation. It is demonstrably false. I have never forced myself on anyone ever. 

I demand a full investigation into these unsubstantiated and false allegations. Such an investigation will confirm my account because I am telling the truth. 

I will clear my good name and I have nothing to hide. I have passed two full field background checks by the FBI and run for office in two highly contested elections with nothing like this being raised before. 

It is obvious that a vicious and coordinated smear campaign is being orchestrated against me.

I will not resign.”

A second statement from Ms. Watson’s attorney, shared with 8News on Friday, claimed Lt. Gov. Fairfax “has chosen to attack his victim again, now smearing her with the typical ‘she’s nuts’ defense.”

Ms. Smith also shared an email with 8News from 2016 when Ms. Watson was asked by another Duke alumna about supporting Fairfax’s upcoming campaign. Watson informed the person that Fairfax raped her in college and that she had no interest in hearing about him. Ms. Smith also provided past Facebook messages from Ms. Watson where she discussed her rape allegations against Fairfax and wondered how she could come forward.

You can read the Facebook messages here. 

After the news broke, former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe called for Lt. Gov. Fairfax to resign on Twitter. 

Rep. Donald McEachin, Virginia’s 4th Congressional representative, tweeted Friday that Fairfax “can no longer serve us as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.” 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, Virginia’s 7th Congressional representative, released a joint statement with four other Democratic congressmen from Virginia calling for Fairfax to “step aside.” 

Rep. Jennifer Wexton, who was apart of the joint statement, reinforced her previous calls for Fairfax to resign on Twitter. Congresswoman Wexton wrote: “I believe Dr. Vanessa Tyson. I believe Meredith Watson. And I believe Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax must resign.” 

One state delegate, Del. Patrick A. Hope (D-Arlington), announced his intentions to introduce articles of impeachment on Monday if Fairfax does not resign by then. 

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a Democratic presidential hopeful for 2020, followed McAuliffe and McEachin’s calls for Lt. Gov. Fairfax to resign. 

Stay with 8News for updates to this developing story. 

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