RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney called Virginia’s Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax on Monday night, two people close to the situation told 8News, in an attempt to clear the air after concerns that Fairfax insinuated that Stoney could be involved in the surfacing of sexual assault accusations from 2004 against Fairfax.
Their phone call ended after Fairfax hung up on Stoney, those sources told 8News.
Lt. Gov. Fairfax has called the allegations “a smear” and said the 2004 encounter with the woman accusing him of sexual misconduct was consensual.
Fairfax’s office sent a release early Monday morning emphatically denying the sexual assault allegation, and he reinforced his denial while hinting at a ploy to undermine his political future during a press conference later that day.
“Does anybody think it’s any coincidence that on the eve of my potentially being elevated that this uncorroborated smear comes out?” Fairfax asked reporters during the conference.
When Fairfax left the conference, he was approached by several reporters outside the State Capitol who broached the subject of how the allegation possibly came to light.
When asked if Gov. Ralph Northam was behind the allegations coming out, Fairfax said he had “no indication of that.”
When pressed again on the matter, this time about him suggesting involvement from Northam before, Fairfax again denied knowing any link between the release of the accusations and the governor.
“I did not suggest it,” he told reporters.
Lt. Gov. Fairfax was then asked about if he felt Mayor Stoney could have been involved.
“Here’s the thing, I will tell you what, you all, you are great reporters,” Fairfax quickly said. “You’ll get to digging and be able to make some connections.”
Fairfax then gave a compliment to a reporter who mentions a possible link to a former member of Mayor Stoney’s staff.
“You’re a great reporter,” Fairfax said with a laugh as he attempted to turn away and leave.
On Tuesday, Stoney denied all claims of possibly being responsible.
“That’s absolutely 100 percent not true … and frankly, I’m kind of offended by such an insinuation,” the mayor told 8News.
What the two men spoke about specifically and how the conversation turned heated enough to end abruptly was not provided.
On Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Fairfax issued a statement in which he detailed his account of a ‘consensual encounter’ he had 15 years ago with a woman who made the allegation that recently surfaced.
He also emphasized the importance of listening to women and giving survivors ‘the space and support to voice their stories.’
“I’d like to begin by emphasizing how important it is for us to listen to women when they come forward with allegations of sexual assault or harassment. As a former prosecutor and someone who is close with a number of women who are survivors of sexual assault, I know that many survivors of sexual assault suffer in silence, and it is absolutely essential to their healing and our healing as a culture that we give all survivors the space and support to voice their stories.
Regarding the allegation that has been made against me – while this allegation has been both surprising and hurtful, I also recognize that no one makes charges of this kind lightly, and I take it and this situation very seriously.
This has been an emotional couple of days for me and my family. And in my remarks on Monday, I think you could hear how emotional dealing with an allegation that I know is not true has been for me.
As I have stated previously, fifteen years ago, when I was an unmarried law student, I had a consensual encounter with the woman who made the allegation. At no time did she express to me any discomfort or concern about our interactions, neither during that encounter, nor during the months following it, when she stayed in touch with me, nor the past fifteen years. She in no way indicated that anything that had happened between us made her uncomfortable.
The first indication I had that she felt that anything that had happened between us fifteen years ago made her uncomfortable was when I was contacted by a national media organization shortly before my inauguration in 2018. I voluntarily met with their staff, in person, told them what I knew about the encounter and responded to all of their questions. I also shared the allegation and my account of the events with a number of leaders in Richmond because then, as now, I have nothing to hide.
I would like to encourage the media, my supporters, and others to treat both the woman who made this allegation and my family with respect for how painful this situation can be for everyone involved. I wish her no harm or humiliation, nor do I seek to denigrate her or diminish her voice. But I cannot agree with a description of events that I know is not true.
If we learned anything from the past week, it’s that we have to listen to people’s experiences to learn from them so we can make progress. Like many of you, I’ve spent time over the last several days discussing difficult subjects with people very close to me. I believe that if we continue to listen, we will continue to make the progress that makes the Commonwealth of Virginia a unique place, not only in the South, but in the United States of America.
These are unprecedented and difficult times. We have the opportunity to prove ourselves worthy of the challenge and come together. I look forward to continuing my work to unify the Commonwealth.” — Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax