Virginia’s political situation is spiraling out of control. Between the racist photo from Gov. Ralph Northam’s yearbook page and the sexual assault allegation against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, it’s unclear who currently in office is actually fit to lead the state.
Earlier today, Dr. Vanessa Tyson released a statement detailing her accusation that Fairfax sexually assaulter her at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Fairfax has denied the allegation and said the encounter between him and Tyson was consensual.
Now, ABC has learned that Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott knew of the allegation against Fairfax a year ago, because Tyson told him.
“Allegations of sexual assault need to be taken seriously. I have known Professor Tyson for approximately a decade and she is a friend. She deserves the opportunity to have her story heard,” Scott said in a statement.
In 2013, Scott was also accused of sexual harassment by a former aide, an allegation he denied.
Scott’s aides told ABC that Tyson reached out to Scott in 2017 about Fairfax’s candidacy for lieutenant governor.
In a Nov. 29 email, Tyson expressed her dislike for Fairfax and wrote that she would like to “talk about it,” with Congressman Scott. [...]
In a text message exchange between Scott and Tyson in December 2017, she informed him that the now-Lieutenant Governor-Elect had a “MeToo allegation,” but at the time the congressman did not know that she was the accuser, according to aides.
In late December 2017 and early January 2018, aides to Scott said he learned that it was Tyson herself who was involved in a “MeToo allegation,” concerning Fairfax. She also informed him that she had already told the Washington Post about an alleged incident involving Fairfax and that she had given the Post Congressman Scott’s name as a character witness.
Scott apparently told Tyson that he would speak to the Washington Post on her behalf.
The Post did not end up running a story on the allegation. Fairfax initially used this as evidence that Tyson’s story was false, but the Post pushed back on that claim, writing “The Post did not find ‘significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegations,’ as the Fairfax statement incorrectly said.” Fairfax then accused the Post of “smearing” him.
A friend of Tyson’s, who she confided in about the incident in October of 2017, gave ABC a statement in support of her credibility. The friend wanted to remain anonymous.
“Vanessa has always been forthright and matter of fact with me about all things and was no different in regards to this incident,” the friend’s statement said. “I trust her beyond measure and know how this incident haunted and traumatized her because she told me so and because I know her well and could hear the anguish in her voice. She sounded resigned, yet disgusted, frustrated, and infuriated in a way that I can sadly recognize from personal experience.”
Tyson has retained the services of the law firm Katz, Marshall and Banks, the same firm that represented Dr. Christine Blasey Ford after she made allegations last fall that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school.
Fairfax provided a new statement today about Tyson’s allegation.
“Regarding the allegation that has been made against me–while this allegation has been both surprising and hurtful, I also recognize that no one makes charges of this kind lightly, and I take it and this situation very seriously,” he wrote. “This has been an emotional couple of days for me and my family. And in my remarks on Monday, I think you could hear how emotional dealing with an allegation that I know is not true has been for me.”