Virginia

Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax Wants Investigation, Says Accuser Has Dates Wrong

Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax says he's asked prosecutors in Boston and North Carolina to investigate sexual assault allegations two women have made against him.

Speaking at a Wednesday news conference, Fairfax again said the allegations are untrue and the sexual encounters he had with the women were consensual.

Fairfax says he'll cooperate fully with prosecutors in Boston and in Durham, North Carolina, where the women say the assaults took place.

"I knew that the allegations against me were false from the moment I first heard them," he said.

Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson brought their accusations against Fairfax in February. Tyson says Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex in 2004. Watson says Fairfax raped her in 2000 when both were students at Duke University.

The Associated Press typically does not identify people who say they were sexually assaulted, but Tyson and Watson stepped forward voluntarily and have expressed a desire to testify in public.

Fairfax says Tyson got her dates wrong about a 2004 sexual encounter at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. He says he hadn't arrived in Boston on the date the alleged assault took place.

Fairfax says he's confident the investigations will reach the same conclusions as a polygraph test he said he's releasing that shows he's innocent. 

In a statement Monday, he said in part: "I feel so strongly regarding my innocence that I submitted myself to polygraph tests for each of the accusations against me. I passed those tests because, as I have maintained from the very beginning, I did not assault either of my accusers." (See Fairfax's complete statement here.)

Tyson's attorney released a statement Wednesday renewing a call for the Virginia General Assembly to hold a bipartisan hearing.

"Given the General Assembly’s inaction, Dr. Tyson decided to appear and answer questions about the incident in a national television interview," the statement said.

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"CBS This Morning" aired a tearful interview with Watson earlier this week in which she said she had been friends with Fairfax for more than a year before he locked her in a room and raped her.

"I completely trusted him," she said. "It was a huge betrayal. He was my friend. I don't understand how you do that to someone that you've been a friend to."

She rejected Fairfax's claim the sex was consensual, saying Fairfax held her down during the attack. "If you have to hold someone down, it's not consensual," she said.

The women brought their allegations against Fairfax at a moment when he seemed poised to ascend to the governor's post. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was facing numerous calls to resign after a racist photo showing a person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan costume was found on his medical school yearbook page. 

In an interview aired Monday with CBS News, Tyson criticized Fairfax for comparing himself to lynching victims when he defended himself in a speech on the state Senate floor in February.

"Never was it two black women lynching black men," Tyson told interviewer Gayle King. Both Tyson and Watson are African American; so is Fairfax.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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