A day after CBS aired sit-down interviews with Dr. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson about their allegations of sexual assault against Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, he again fervently denied their allegations on Wednesday.
On Sunday, Fairfax released the partial results of two polygraph tests he said bolster his denials, and he said today that he will release the full results. He also called upon prosecutors in Boston and Durham, NC to investigate the allegations, insisting that only such investigations would show he did not assault the women.
“These allegations, if true, would be incredibly serious. Because they are not true, however, they are incredibly hurtful to me and my family and my reputation, which I have spent a lifetime building,” Fairfax told reporters, reading from a five-page statement, according to the Washington Post.
Fairfax has maintained his innocence since Tyson and Watson came forward in February with their accounts of assault, amid the possibility that Gov. Ralph Northam could step down from his post, which would have allowed Fairfax to assume his seat. The speculation followed the discovery that Northam’s page in his medical school yearbook contains a photo of one person wearing blackface and another in a KKK robe. (Northam initially copped to being in the photo, but now maintains he isn’t either person photographed).
Tyson told CBS’ Gayle King that—during an encounter that began consensually during the 2004 Democratic National Convention—Fairfax pushed her neck down to his crotch and forced her to perform oral sex on him. Watson alleged to King that while they were in college in 2000, Fairfax raped her.
Speaking to the press on Wednesday, Fairfax disputed each of the women’s claims and characterized the encounters as consensual. Fairfax said, according to CBS News:
“After I arrived, I met Dr. Tyson, who was a volunteer at the Convention. As young adults and students we spent time together talking. I invited her to my hotel room, where we engaged in completely consensual activity. I have heard Dr. Tyson say that I held her neck and physically forced her to engage in sexual contact. That is simply is not true. What she alleged never happened. At no time did I force any contact,” he said.
“On one occasion late in my senior year in the year 2000, she initiated a consensual encounter with me. I did not rape or sexually assault Meredith Watson. I did not lock the door, turn out the lights, hold her down, or use any physical force whatsoever. We were both willing participants,” he explained. “After that encounter, I saw her on occasion when we were with mutual friends. At no time, before, during, or after our encounter did she ever say or do anything that suggested to me in any way that she believed that she thought anything that happened between us was something she had not wanted or that she was uncomfortable with.”
Fairfax asserted that “If the facts alleged by Dr. Tyson and Ms. Watson were true the conduct would be criminal.” He said such conduct is “against everything I have stood for in both my public and private life.”
The lieutenant governor also emphasized that he voluntarily took and passed the polygraph tests about each of the women’s allegations on the first try, and reportedly handed out a report on the polygraph tests to the journalists present, according to the Post. He also said his lawyers have asked prosecutors in Boston and Durham, where the two alleged assaults took place, to investigate.
“I do not believe that national television appearances or legislative hearings are the right vehicles to get at the truth,” Fairfax said. “Sensationalizing allegations does not make them true. Yet airing salacious allegations without evidence does enormous damage.”
Despite Fairfax’s efforts to clear his name and maintain his willingness to cooperate in such efforts, some vocally discounted the tactic. Virginia House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert, a Republican and former prosecutor, sniped to the Post that “Ted Bundy passed a polygraph” and noted such evidence isn’t admissible in court.
It’s curious that Fairfax, a former prosecutor himself, would approach proving his innocence in this manner, but this is where we are.