Virginia Politics

Fairfax calls for full investigation into sexual assault allegations

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) -- Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax released a statement Saturday evening calling for a full investigation into the sexual assault allegations made earlier this week. 

Fairfax is accused of sexual assault by two women: Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson.

In a statement, Fairfax said, "What I have just expressed is the truth. I want to stand here in that truth and restate that my truth, as well as the truth of Dr. Tyson and Ms. Watson, should be fully investigated and thoroughly assessed." 

Fairfax has denied both allegations and on Saturday asked that "no one rush to judgment."

Democratic lawmakers, many from Virginia and some across the nation, called on Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax to step down on Friday after a woman accused Fairfax of raping her in 2000 while the two were college students.

This is the second sexual assault allegation to come out this week against Lt. Gov. Fairfax. 

The woman accusing Mr. Fairfax was identified as Meredith Watson after the law firm she hired, Smith Mullin, P.C., released a statement on her behalf that said Fairfax raped her when they were students at Duke University. 

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

Ms. Watson's attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, describes the alleged sexual assault in the statement as a premeditated, aggressive "attack." 

The statement, which requested Fairfax's resignation, said that the details of Ms. Watson's alleged attack, "are similar to those described by Dr. Vanessa Tyson." 

The news broke while reports that Gov. Northam told his top staff he doesn't plan to resign came out.

After the second allegation, several Democratic lawmakers began calling for Fairfax to resign and one even threatened to introduce articles of impeachment if Fairfax doesn't decide to step aside by next week. 

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

Saturday night Meredith Watson's attorney Nancy Erika Smith responded to Fairfax's statement saying two witnesses along with Watson are willing to testify in an impeachment hearing.

If an impeachment hearing does occur, though, Watson, 39, is willing to testify that Fairfax raped her while they were students at Duke University in 2000, her attorney said in a statement.

"Ms. Watson stands ready, although it will be painful, to tell the Virginia Legislature what Mr. Fairfax did to her when she was 20 years old," the statement said.

Attorneys for Tyson, a California college professor who said Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him at a Boston hotel in 2004, also released a statement saying their client would be willing to testify.

"We are confident that once the Virginia legislature hears Dr. Tyson's harrowing account of this sexual assault, the testimony of many corroborating witnesses, and evidence of his attempts to mislead the public about The Washington Post's decision not to run a story in 2018, it will conclude that he lacks the character, fitness and credibility to serve in any capacity," the statement said.

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, the newly elected Democratic congresswoman representing Virginia's 10th District, signed the joint statement released by Spanberger.

Congresswoman Wexton reinforced her previous calls for Fairfax to resign on Twitterwriting, "I believe Dr. Vanessa Tyson. I believe Meredith Watson. And I believe Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax must resign." 

The two Virginia congressmen who did not put their name on the joint statement, Rep. Donald McEachin and Rep. Bobby Scott, each shared their thoughts on the accusations surrounding Fairfax.  

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

Rep. Scott, Virginia's 3rd Congressional representative, called the allegations "disturbing and extremely serious." Congressman Scott called for an immediate investigation and said if the accusations are proven to be true that Fairfax should resign immediately. 

“The recent allegations against Lieutenant Governor Fairfax are disturbing and extremely serious. Both allegations must be investigated immediately. If either is found to be true – and there appears to be significant corroborating evidence – then the Lieutenant Governor should resign immediately,” Rep. Scott's statement read. 

Virginia's senators, Sen. Mark Warner and Sen. Tim Kaine, both shared statements late Friday night regarding the allegations surrounding Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.

Sen. Kaine called for Lt. Gov. Fairfax to resign immediately, saying in a brief statement that Fairfax "can no longer effectively serve the Commonwealth."

Sen. Warner called the news "devastating" but did not call on Fairfax to resign right away.

"In the past week, the people of the Commonwealth have been subjected to what seems like an unending barrage of revelations about the past actions, both admitted and alleged, of their elected leaders. Resolving this crisis will require a government with the confidence of the people, justice for those who have been harmed, and a path forward that promotes healing and reconciliation. I am committed to doing everything I can to find this way ahead, but it will not be the work of a single evening. Those of us in elected office who have been endowed with the public's trust must always put the Commonwealth first," Warner's statement read in part.

Warner says that if the accusations are true, Fairfax "must resign."

Three potential Democratic presidential candidates also came out on Friday and said Fairfax should step aside. 

Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who many have speculated is planning a run for president, called for Lt. Gov. Fairfax to resign on Twitter. 

Two senators who have already announced their intentions to run for president in 2020, Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, said on Friday that Fairfax needs to leave office. 

In his latest message to the public, after Ms. Watson shared her accusation, Lt. Gov. Fairfax made his intentions to stay in office clear by writing at the end of his statement, "I will not resign."   

Fairfax has yet to address the multiple calls from fellow Democrats to leave his post.  

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