The Washington Post on Monday actively rebuffed portions of Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax’s denial over allegations that he’d sexually assaulted a woman at the Democratic National Convention in 2004.
Fairfax’s denial, issued shortly after the far-right website Big League Politics website published a story on Sunday entitled “Stanford Fellow Hints At Possible Justin Fairfax Sex Assault,” claimed that the Washington Post had been approached more than year ago with the same allegations that he’d sexually assaulted someone 15 years earlier. But, Fairfax wrote, the paper had chosen not to run the piece after investigating the claim “for several months.”
“After being presented with facts consistent with the Lt. Governor’s denial of the allegation, the absence of any evidence corroborating the allegation, and significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegation, the Post made the considered decision not to publish the story,” Fairfax said in his statement denying the story.
“Tellingly,” Fairfax continued, “not one other reputable media outlet has seen fit to air this false claim.”
But several hours after Fairfax released his statement, the Post published a story which claimed that the reasons he stated for their decision not to run the story weren’t entirely true.
Per the Post (emphasis mine):
The Washington Post could not find anyone who could corroborate either version [of Fairfax and the woman’s stories.] The Post did not find “significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegations,” as the Fairfax statement incorrectly said.
Later, the paper wrote that:
The Washington Post, in phone calls to people who knew Fairfax from college, law school and through political circles, found no similar complaints of sexual misconduct against him. Without that, or the ability to corroborate the woman’s account — in part because she had not told anyone what happened — The Washington Post did not run a story.
So, while Fairfax is correct that the paper did not run the allegations because of a lack of corroborating evidence, it appears that he may have—at the very least—taken significant liberty by claiming the paper also found “red flags” and “inconsistencies” during its investigation.
All this comes as Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam faces increasing pressure to resign from office after racist pictures from a 1984 yearbook were uncovered by Big League Politics, the same website now targeting Fairfax. If Northam were to resign, Fairfax would serve nearly a full term as replacement governor. If both were to resign, Democratic attorney general Mark Herring would become governor.
I have reached out to Fairfax’s office for comment on the Washington Post’s claim, and will update this story if they respond.