VA House Democrats call for outside investigation into Fairfax assault allegations

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RICHMOND, VA - FEBRUARY 07: Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax arrives in the Senate chamber at the Virginia State Capitol, February 7, 2019 in Richmond, Virginia. Virginia state politics are in a state of upheaval, with Governor Ralph Northam and State Attorney General Mark Herring both admitting to past uses of blackface and Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax accused of sexual misconduct. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia House Democrats on Wednesday called upon law enforcement to investigate claims that Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax sexually assaulted two women in the early 2000s.

“We believe that the law enforcement investigation should proceed unencumbered and outside of the political arena,” the group tweeted in a statement Tuesday afternoon, signaling that they will not move forward with impeachment proceedings despite calling on Fairfax to resign.

Fairfax has denied the assault allegations poised by Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson, both of whom claim Fairfax sexually assaulted them in 2004 and 2000, respectively, and has repeatedly indicated that he does not have plans to resign despite widespread calls to do so.

“I will clear my good name and I have nothing to hide,” Fairfax said. “I have passed two full, field background checks by the FBI and run for office in two highly contested elections with nothing like this being raised before… I will not resign.”

Dr. Vanessa Tyson in a statement said that at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Fairfax “put his hand behind my neck and forcefully pushed my head towards his crotch,” and said that he “forced his penis into my mouth.”

Meredith Watson, who attended Duke University with Fairfax, alleged that Fairfax raped her in a “premeditated and aggressive” incident in 2000 while they were undergraduates.

While both Watson and Fairfax expressed willingness to testify during a potential impeachment hearing, Democrats in Virginia’s Congress have since shifted their position, calling upon law  enforcement to lead any investigations.

Tyson will meet with the District Attorney’s office in Suffolk County, MA where the 2004 Democratic National Convention took place to detail her allegations to prosecutors, according to her attorney Debra Katz.

In an op-ed published Monday in The Washington Post, Watson criticized the General Assembly for their failure to hold a public hearing on either of the allegations.

“I have endured relentless scrutiny of my personal life and an unending, bitter flood of hurtful misinformation trumpeted by the media.” Watson wrote, adding, “My privacy has already been violated, yet I am still willing to testify publicly under oath. Tyson has made the same offer. Our plea to the Virginia General Assembly to require the same of Fairfax has been met with inaction.”

Shortly after the op-ed was published, Speaker of the Virginia House Kirk Cox tweeted:

Just weeks ago, Fairfax was speculated to take over the Governorship from Gov. Ralph Northam after he admitted to using blackface following the circulation of racist photos in his Medical School yearbook.

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