Meredith Watson sat down for an interview with CBS This Morning’s Gayle King on Tuesday to detail her allegations of sexual assault against Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax while the two were in college in 2000. Watson was the second woman to accuse Fairfax of sexual assault after Dr. Vanessa Tyson. The full interview can be viewed here.
Watson told CBS that she and Fairfax grew to be friends at the end of her freshman year at Duke University and that he was someone she “really trusted.” Watson said that two years later, Fairfax, who was one year ahead of her, invited her over to his dorm to celebrate his nearing graduation.
She told King that at one point, Fairfax left the room but returned, locked the door, and turned off the lights. Watson said she tried to leave multiple times but “was pushed back down” onto a couch in the room as Fairfax “forcibly sexually assaulted and raped me.”
I am, and have long been, a strong proponent of the rights of women in our society — among them equal rights, reproductive rights, economic rights, the right to be heard and respected, the right to fair access to the criminal justice system, and right to be free from disrespect, harassment, and assault.
At the same time, I also believe that we must find a way to ensure that our justice system and even the court of public opinion provide due process and fairness both to accusers and the accused.
I, for one, stand accused of crimes that I did not commit.
Fairfax’s statement continued by calling for Watson or Tyson to press charges in either civil or criminal court if they truly believed he assaulted them, all the while maintaining his innocence. In her interview with King, Watson said that she does not plan on pressing charges—North Carolina does not have a statute of limitations on felony sexual assault.
King noted a number of complaints stemming from a former relationship and recent financial issues and asked Watson how she felt about those allegations; Watson responded, “What does that have to do with what happened in 2000?”
“I don’t have anything to gain by coming forward,” Watson told CBS. “The only thing that coming forward has done is invited criticism and chaos and scrutiny of me, and put me under a microscope. It’s been difficult enough what I’ve gone through the past 20 years.”
When asked what she wanted from the situation, Watson was clear.
“I want some action from the Virginia legislature,” she said. “There is no amount of money that can compensate me for what he did to me or what I live with every day.”
Watson was the second woman to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct two days after Tyson alleged Fairfax assaulted her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Through tears, Watson told CBS on Tuesday that while she confided in friends about the assault in the past, when she realized someone else went through a similar experience four years after her assault, she felt she had to something.
“I broke down into tears because I felt guilty,” Watson told King. “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. And I know the pain that she’s had to live with since that happened, and nobody should have to live with that.”