Fairfax asks for investigations into sexual assault allegations
Virginia Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax on Wednesday called for investigations into sexual assault allegations made against him by two women, saying he is “confident” the investigations will clear his name.
In February, Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson came forward accusing Fairfax of sexual assault. Tyson alleged that he sexually assaulted her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, and Watson accused Fairfax of raping her while they were students at Duke University in 2000.
Fairfax, who has consistently denied the allegations and said Sunday he had taken two polygraph exams in an effort to show he is telling the truth, said Wednesday he wants officials in Boston and Durham, North Carolina, where Duke is located, to look into the allegations.
“Because of the nature of these allegations, they should be assessed by professional law enforcement investigators who have the tools and the training to determine whether or not the allegations are true,” Fairfax said in a statement. “I am confident that these highly professional and experienced law enforcement offices are committed to treating accusers fairly, seriously, and respectfully, while also treating the accused fairly and ascertaining the truth or falsity of these allegations.”
He continued: “When all of the facts and evidence are examined by unbiased law enforcement professionals, I am confident that they will reach the same conclusion that was reached by one of the leading polygraph experts in the country — that I am telling the truth. I did not assault Vanessa Tyson. I did not assault Meredith Watson.”
In a statement, Watson’s attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, said Watson preferred a public hearing into the matter rather than an investigation, arguing that Fairfax’s call would prevent transparency.
“We have been focusing on the Virginia Assembly — and a full public hearing. Not a months (or years)-long criminal investigation which is done in secrecy,” she said in the statement, adding that Fairfax and his “protectors” would use a investigation “to say he can’t answer any questions in public.”
CNN has reached out to representatives for Tyson.
On Monday, Tyson recounted her allegation against Fairfax in her first televised interview since coming forward in February. She told CBS News that 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. She said the incident left her feeling “ashamed” and “humiliated.”
Watson, who went public with her allegation of rape against Fairfax shortly after Tyson came forward, also gave her first televised interview on the matter to CBS News this week. In the interview, which aired Tuesday, Watson offered 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.
The allegations by Watson and Tyson came amid a separate controversy in February involving a decades-old racist photo on the medical school yearbook page of Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam.