Virginia Lt. Gov. Fairfax Requests Criminal Investigations Into Sex Assault Accusations Against Him - NBC4 Washington
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Virginia Lt. Gov. Fairfax Requests Criminal Investigations Into Sex Assault Accusations Against Him

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Va. Lt. Gov. Talks About Why He Is Asking for Assault Probes

    Virginia's lieutenant governor explains why he's renewing a push for prosecutors to investigate sexual assault allegations against him, but lawyers for his accusers are firing back, calling his latest move a political stunt. Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey sat down with Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and a lawyer for one of his accusers. (Published Thursday, June 13, 2019)

    Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is asking prosecutors in Boston and North Carolina again to investigate sexual assault allegations two women made against him.

    Fairfax's attorney sent letters to the district attorney's offices in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, and Durham County, North Carolina, asking for criminal investigations to be opened.

    Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson brought their accusations of sex assault against Fairfax in February.

    Tyson says Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex in 2004 when they were both at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Fairfax has said he hadn't yet arrived in Boston on the date of the alleged assault.

    Va. Lt. Gov. Wants Sex Assault Allegations Investigated

    [DC] Va. Lt. Gov. Wants Sex Assault Allegations Investigated

    Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is going on offense to fight the sexual assault allegations against him. His legal team is challenging prosecutors to investigate the claims or clear his name. News4's Leon Harris reports.

    (Published Wednesday, June 12, 2019)

    Watson says Fairfax raped her in 2000 when both were students at Duke University. She says she had been friends with Fairfax for more than a year before he locked her in a room and assaulted her. She says the sex was not consensual.

    “If an investigation were to determine that the allegation is true, it should be criminally prosecuted," each letter said. "Conversely, if an investigation were to determine that the allegation is false, which Lt. Governor Fairfax is confident would be the conclusion of any unbiased and professional investigation, the matter should be closed and the public informed.”

    Fairfax has said he's confident criminal investigations would reach the same conclusions as a polygraph test he said he released to show he's innocent.

    "Just as no serious crime should go unprosecuted, no innocent person should have his reputation tarnished by a false allegation," the letters said.

    “I’ve been ready from day one to talk under oath with law enforcement, penalty of perjury,” Fairfax told News4 Thursday. “And I would hope that the accusers would be willing to do the same if that’s how we’re really able to get to the truth.”

    Attorneys for Tyson called the letters to prosecutors a political stunt.

    “Sending a six-page letter as opposed to picking up the phone if you wanted to make a request?” attorney Lisa Banks said. “It’s political. He’s trying to put himself out there in a more positive light.”

    Banks said as a former prosecutor, Fairfax knows the potential target of an investigation doesn’t get to initiate a criminal probe.

    A spokesperson for the Suffolk district attorney seemed to underscore that, confirming they got the letter but saying, “We normally don’t discuss potential sexual assault investigations when criminal charges have not been issued, no matter who is asking us to do otherwise.”

    “None of this should be the way it’s done,” Fairfax said. “If someone wants to make a serious criminal allegation, they should do so by going to law enforcement.”

    Legal teams for both accusers continue to say a bipartisan hearing in the Virginia General Assembly is the best way to uncover the truth.

    “If he wants to clear his name before the public, which he says he wants to do, he would agree to a hearing before the Virginia Legislature,” Banks said.

    Fairfax and fellow democrats reject that idea — some saying hearings would be a political circus.

    In February, Banks said she was going to speak to prosecutors in Boston, but they said Thursday they have had preliminary conversations, but there has not been a criminal complaint.

    Watson said she had no interest in bringing criminal charges in North Carolina.

    Tyson and Watson 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. 

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