News & Politics

Second Woman Accuses Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of Sexual Assault

Second Woman Accuses Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of Sexual Assault
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax in his office at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

See below for an update.

A second woman came forward Friday accusing embattled Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault.

Attorneys for Meredith Watson released a statement alleging that she was raped by Fairfax while they were students at Duke University and calling for Fairfax’s resignation.

We serve as counsel for Meredith Watson, who was raped by Justin Fairfax in 2000, while they were both students at Duke University. Mr. Fairfax’s attack was premeditated and aggressive. The two were friends but never dated or had any romantic relationship.

Ms. Watson shared her account of the rape with friends in a series of emails and Facebook messages that are now in our possession. Additionally, we have statements from former classmates corroborating that Ms. Watson immediately told friends that Mr. Fairfax had raped her.

Ms. Watson was upset to learn that Mr. Fairfax raped at least one other woman after he attacked her. The details of Ms. Watson’s attack are similar to those described by Dr. Vanessa Tyson.

At this time, Ms. Watson is reluctantly coming forward out of a strong sense of civic duty and her belief that those seeking or serving in public office should be of the highest character. She has no interest in becoming a media personality or reliving the trauma that has greatly affected her life. Similarly, she is not seeking any financial damages.

On behalf of our client, we have notified Justin Fairfax through his attorneys that Ms. Watson hopes he will resign from public office.

Earlier this week Dr. Vanessa Tyson accused Fairfax of sexual assault during an encounter at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Tyson alleges that Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him during an encounter at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. According to a  profile of Fairfax on the website of his alma mater, Columbia Law School, the future lieutenant governor was working as a so-called “body man” for vice presidential nominee John Edwards. Fairfax has denied any wrongdoing and described the encounter as consensual.

Tyson reportedly told five friends about the assault in the last two years.

Tyson is an associate professor of politics at Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., and a Democrat.

Fairfax didn’t deny having a sexual encounter with Tyson, but insisted that it was consensual.

During a private meeting on Monday, he reportedly said “f*** that b****” in reference to Tyson, according to NBC News reporter Jonathan Allen.

Update 6:07 p.m. Eastern: It appears that there may be more accusers if this tweet is any indication:

Update 8:11 p.m. Eastern: The Women’s March tonight released a statement saying that the believe Fairfax’s accusers:

“We believe Dr. Vanessa Tyson. We believe Meredith Watson. We believe survivors, who have nothing to gain and everything to lose when they come forward and speak out about abuse. Justice looks different for every survivor, but all survivors deserve justice, and almost none receive it. Dr. Tyson knows this. Ms. Watson knows this. They are speaking out anyway, bravely, courageously.

For too long, anti-Blackness and violence against women have been swept under the rug, allowing perpetrators access to seats of power—from the Virginia Governor’s office to the White House. No more. We cannot enable or excuse abuse any more than we can enable and excuse racism. We need avenues in place to encourage accountability. We need paths forward for people who cause harm. And above all, we need support for survivors.”