Fairfax accusers detail assault allegations in new interviews
Two women, Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson, have given national television interviews to detail their allegations of sexual assault against Virginia Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.
Tyson’s interview aired Monday morning on CBS, and Watson’s is scheduled for the following day. They mark the first televised interviews with the women since they came forward in February amid Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s separate controversy sparked by a decades-old racist yearbook photo.
Fairfax has issued a categorical denial of the allegations and his office has said he has taken two polygraph exams in an effort to show he is telling the truth.
‘I was so ashamed’
In the interview, Tyson recounted her allegation that Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston and addressed the ensuing controversy since she came forward.
Tyson said what began as “completely consensual” kissing turned into Fairfax forcibly moving her head to his crotch to the point she could not feel her neck or lift her head.
“I was so ashamed. I was so humiliated,” Tyson said in the interview, noting that at the time she worked at a rape crisis center.
Watson went public with her allegation of rape against Fairfax shortly after Tyson came forward. She has said Fairfax raped her while they were students at Duke University in 2000.
In a clip of the interview released by CBS on Monday, Watson offers an intensely emotional expression of regret for not coming forward at the time of the alleged incident.
“It happened to her after it happened to me, and had I had the strength or the courage to say something in 2000, maybe it never would have happened to her,” Watson said of Tyson.
Contact with district attorney, call for hearing
A source directly connected to Tyson told CNN that Tyson’s attorneys have been in contact with Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins, but that a meeting has not been scheduled. The two sides have discussed “options” for the district attorney to look into the claims. Rollins offered to speak to Tyson back in February when the news of the allegations initially broke.
In the interview, Tyson called for a public hearing at the Virginia General Assembly with testimony from herself, Watson and Fairfax.
Virginia House Republicans have said they are willing to hold public hearings on the matter, but at this point Democrats have not agreed to participate. Democrats have said that they would prefer the matter be investigated by authorities in the jurisdictions where the alleged incidents took place.
Ahead of the interviews, Fairfax’s office issued a statement again denying the allegations. In the statement, Fairfax called for “a serious, fair, and impartial investigation” into the matter.