Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax speaks out on sex assault allegations, requests investigations

The embattled politician has called for investigations into sex assault claims.

April 3, 2019, 12:38 PM

Embattled Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax spoke out Wednesday denying sexual assault allegations made against him by two women and calling for multi-state investigations he says will result in "clearing my good name."

"These allegations, if true, would be incredibly serious. Because they are not true, however, they are incredibly hurtful to me and my family and my reputation, which I have spent a lifetime building," Fairfax, reading from a prepared statement, said at a news conference in Richmond.

He spoke out after his accusers, California political science professor Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson, his former college classmate, alleged in interviews broadcast this week on CBS that he sexually assaulted them.

Tyson claims Fairfax assaulted her in 2004 when they were both working at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Watson has accused Fairfax of raping her in 2000 when they were both students at Duke University.

On Sunday, Fairfax released the partial results of two polygraph examinations he underwent that he says bolsters his previous statements denying the allegations.

Fairfax, the married 40-year-old father of two young children, said Wednesday he will release the full report of his polygraph tests.

"I passed each of those tests on the first try," Fairfax said.

He also said he directed his attorney to request prosecutors in Boston and in Durham, North Carolina, to launch investigations into the allegations and said he "offered my full cooperation."

"I will answer any and all questions," he said. "I am willing to do so under oath and under penalty of perjury."

The allegations were first made when Fairfax, who was elected lieutenant governor in 2017, seemed destined to succeed Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. A fellow Democrat, Northam came under scrutiny in February when photos on his 1984 yearbook page from Eastern Virginia Medical School emerged showing two men, one in a full Ku Klux Klan robe and hood and another in blackface.

'He forcibly sexually assaulted and raped me.'

About 24 hours after apologizing for the photo, Northam denied he was one of the men in the picture, but said during a news conference that he had once worn blackface when he imitated Michael Jackson during a dance competition, in which he did Jackson's famous moonwalk.

Northam has rejected calls for his resignation, as has Fairfax. Virginia's Attorney General Mark Herring, who is third in line for the governorship, was also forced to apologize for attending a 1980 party dressed as rapper Kurtis Blow and wearing brown makeup on his face.

"As the person accused, I also deserve to be treated fairly, seriously, and respectfully," Fairfax said on Wednesday. "A just society requires fairness and due process."

Fairfax, a descendant of a slave, compared himself in a speech on the floor of the Virginia state Senate in February to victims of "terror lynchings."

In interviews aired Monday and Tuesday on CBS, Tyson and Watson blasted Fairfax for that comparison.

"Never was it two black women lynching black men," Tyson said in her interview with "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King.

In a separate interview with King, Watson recounted the alleged attack by Fairfax when they were both students at Duke University.

"He forcibly sexually assaulted and raped me," Watson claimed. "I was not on the bed, initially. There was a couch. And he pulled me over and I tried several times to get up and was pushed back down, held down."

Fairfax responded Wednesday by saying he does not believe national television appearances or legislative hearings, which Tyson has called for and volunteered to testify at if called, "are the right vehicles to get at the truth."

"Sensationalizing allegations does not make them true. Yet, airing salacious allegations without evidence does enormous damage," Fairfax said. "While these allegations simply are not true, I cannot begin to tell you the pain that these false allegations have caused me and my family. My family and the life we have built together mean the world to me. It pains me more than I can express for my wife and young children to have to hear these false allegations."