A second woman has publicly accused Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault, claiming he raped her while the pair were students at Duke University nearly 20 years ago.
In a short statement released through her attorney, Meredith Watson alleged that Fairfax raped her in 2000 while both in college. Watson alleged that the attack was “premeditated and aggressive” and stated that while she was friends with Fairfax, the two had never been romantically linked prior to the attack.
This new allegation comes just two days after Dr. Vanessa Tyson alleged that Fairfax had forced her to perform oral sex against her will while the two were in a hotel room during the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Fairfax has denied Tyson’s allegation, calling their sexual encounter “consensual.”
In her statement, Watson said that her alleged attack was “similar to those described by of Dr. Vanessa Tyson,” and that she told friends immediately after the incident that she’d been raped by Fairfax. Watson’s attorney also said she was in possession of emails and Facebook messages corroborating Watson’s claim that she’d shared her experience with friends.
According to the statement, Watson “has no interest in becoming a media personality or reliving the trauma” of her alleged attack. Rather, she is “reluctantly” coming forward with her story now “out of a strong sense of civic duty and her belief that those seeking or serving in public office should be of the highest character.” She has demanded Fairfax resign from office.
We’ve reached out to Fairfax’s office for comment, and will update if and when we receive a response.
All three of the highest-ranking officials in the Virginia state government are currently serving under a cloud of scrutiny. Both Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring have resisted calls to step down for wearing blackface in the early 1980s. In addition, the Virginian-Pilot reported yesterday that Virginia Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, a Republican, was the editor of a college yearbook at the Virginia Military Institute which included pictures of people dressed in blackface as well as racist and anti-Semitic slurs.
Should Northam step down, Fairfax would become Virginia’s next governor. If Fairfax resigns, Herring would assume the governorship. And if all three men are ousted, Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox would be next in line.
Update, 5:08 p.m. ET: Fairfax has denied the allegation, and insisted that he will not step down from office.
Update, 5:47 p.m. ET: Following this latest allegation, Virginia Rep. Jennifer Wexton and Hawaii Sen. Maize Hirono have both called on Fairfax to resign.