POLITICS

Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax's Accuser Releases Statement On Sexual Assault Allegations

Dr. Vanessa Tyson alleges that the Virginia lawmaker forced her to perform oral sex on him during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

The woman accusing Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) of sexual assault detailed the alleged July 2004 incident in a statement released Wednesday through her lawyers.

Vanessa Tyson, an associate professor of politics at Scripps College in Claremont, California, said: “What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault.”

The professor went on to say Fairfax allegedly forced her to perform oral sex on him in a hotel room while they were both attending the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts.  

“To be very clear, I did not want to engage in oral sex with Mr. Fairfax and I never gave any form of consent,” Tyson wrote. “Quite the opposite. I consciously avoided Mr. Fairfax for the remainder of the Convention and I never spoke to him again.”

Fairfax has vehemently denied the allegation, which he claims only resurfaced in the wake of calls for the resignation of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D).

Northam came under fire last week after Big League Politics published a photo from the governor’s medical school yearbook page that appeared to show an individual wearing blackface beside another in Ku Klux Klan robes.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for Northam to step down, which would position Fairfax to take over as the state’s governor.

“Only now, at a time of intense media attention surrounding Virginia politics, has this false claim been raised again,” Fairfax said in a statement on Monday.

In a subsequent statement on Wednesday, before Tyson released her account on the alleged assault, Fairfax described what he called “a consensual encounter with the woman who made the allegation.”

“At no time did she express to me any discomfort or concern about our interactions, neither during that encounter, nor during the months following it, when she stayed in touch with me, nor the past fifteen years,” Fairfax wrote. 

Tyson said she experienced “both deep humiliation and shame” after the alleged assault.

“I did not speak about it for years, and (like most survivors) suppressed those memories and emotions as a necessary means to continue my studies, and to pursue my goal of building a successful career as an academic,” she wrote.

The professor contacted The Washington Post in December 2017 after learning about Fairfax’s successful campaign for lieutenant governor of Virginia. The Post this week confirmed that it had been contacted by a woman who accused Fairfax of sexually assaulting her in 2004. The paper said the woman reached out prior to Fairfax’s inauguration in 2018 and that it hadn’t been able to corroborate either Fairfax’s or the woman’s account.

Colleagues of Tyson’s at Stanford University, at which she is a research fellow, also said she told them about the alleged incident last year, prior to the scandal surrounding Northam.

Tyson has retained law firm Katz, Marshall and Banks, which also represented Christine Blasey Ford when she accused then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both in high school. (Kavanaugh was eventually confirmed by the Senate.)

Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University in Northern California, also faced scrutiny and claims that her allegation was politically motivated.

This has been updated.

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