California Senator and presidential hopeful Kamala Harris took to Twitter on Friday evening to call on Virginia’s lieutenant governor to step down. Harris wrote that the sexual assault allegations against Justin Fairfax are “corroborated, painful stories,” adding that “it’s clear Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax should resign his office.” You can see Kamala Harris’s full statement here:
On Friday, a law firm representing a woman named Meredith Watson sent a letter to Virginia lawmakers, alleging that Justin Fairfax had raped Watson while they were students at Duke University in 2000. Watson’s lawyer, Nancy Erika Smith, also issued a statement about the charges. The statement charged that Fairfax had raped Meredith Watson in a “premeditated” and “aggressive” attack. He and Watson had been friends but had never dated. Watson is not seeking any compensation in the case but, her lawyer said, was motivated to come forward with her story because she felt that it was her civic duty.
Fairfax responded with a statement calling the rape allegation “unsubstantiated” and “false.” He said that there was “obviously” a smear campaign being carried out against him. Fairfax’s statement said:
“I demand a full investigation into these unsubstantiated and false allegations. Such an investigation will confirm my account because I am telling the truth,” Fairfax said. “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.”
Meredith Watson’s Lawyers Said She Came Forward After Hearing the Story of Vanessa Tyson, Who Has Accused Fairfax of Sexual Assault
Earlier this month, a woman named Vanessa Tyson came forward and had accused Justin Fairfax of sexually assaulting her when they were both at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Fairfax has denied that he ever committed sexual assault. In a statement, Tyson said that her encounter with Fairfax started out with a consensual kiss but then turned into assault. Be aware that her statement is graphic. She wrote:
“He put his hand behind my neck and forcefully pushed my head towards his crotch. Only then did I realize that he had unbuckled his belt, unzipped his pants, and taken out his penis. He then forced his penis into my mouth. Utterly shocked and terrified, I tried to move my head away but could not because his hand was holding down my neck and he was much stronger than me. As I cried and gagged, Mr. Fairfax forced me to perform oral sex on him. I can not believe, given my obvious distress, that Mr. Fairfax thought this forced sexual act was consensual. To be very clear, I did not want to engage in oral sex with Mr. Fairfax. I never gave any form of consent. Quite the opposite.”
You can read more about Tyson’s statement here.
The statement from Meredith Watson’s lawyers says that Watson was upset when she heard Tyson’s story — it also says that the details of Tyson’s story were similar to Watson’s experience with Fairfax. Justin Fairfax has denied that he ever sexually assaulted anybody.