Fairfax’s attorney pushes for criminal investigation into allegations
The attorney for Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has sent letters to prosecutors in North Carolina and Massachusetts requesting their offices open criminal investigations into claims of sexual assault against him.
Fairfax, a Democrat, is accused by two different women of sexual assault, accusations that emerged during the blackface scandal surrounding Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam when there were calls for Northam to step down. Fairfax is first in line of succession should Northam resign.
Vanessa Tyson accused Fairfax of forcing her to engage in sexual acts without her consent during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Meredith Watson, a classmate of Fairfax at Duke University, claims the lieutenant governor raped her during their time as students at Duke in 2000.
Fairfax has vehemently denied both claims, but did not endorse a criminal investigation by the specific jurisdictions into the matter until early April. He called for those investigations after he claimed that he had voluntarily taken and passed a polygraph examination. In February, Fairfax more broadly called for the FBI to “investigate fully and thoroughly the allegations against me.”
The move by Fairfax attorney Barry Pollock this week signals that the lieutenant governor is continuing to push for those investigations while he still could face a public hearing by the legislature, where both of his accusers have said they would be willing to testify.
In the letters to the district attorneys’ offices in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, and Durham County, North Carolina, obtained by CNN, Pollock specifically asks for criminal investigations to be launched.
In the letter to Ian Polumbaum, the assistant district attorney in Suffolk, Pollack gives a lengthy defense of Fairfax and requests that at the end of the investigation the results be made public.
“An objective and thorough investigation of that allegation should be conducted, and the results reported to the public,” Pollack writes. “Just as no serious crime should go unprosecuted; no innocent person should have his reputation tarnished by a false accusation.”
Pollack also tells Polumbaum that Fairfax is willing to sit for an interview regarding the claims and testify under oath about his recollection of the events. He also writes that he hopes Fairfax’s accusers are willing to do the same.
The letter also details in specificity evidence that Fairfax believes points to his innocence. That includes his claim that he sat for and passed a polygraph test and, in the case of the accusation from Tyson, that she did not come forward publicly until it was possible that he may ascend to the governorship because of the Northam scandal.
News of the letters was first reported by CBS.
Both Watson and Tyson have resisted formally requesting a criminal investigation into their claims and have stopped short of pressing charges against Fairfax. They both prefer the matter be handled by the Virginia General Assembly and have said they would be willing to testify publicly in a bipartisan hearing. House Republicans have called for a hearing, but House Democrats have said the proceeding runs the risk of becoming a partisan circus.