As the governor of Virginia and his attorney general face calls for their resignation over their former fondness for wearing blackface, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, who would become governor should Ralph Northam resign, faces an allegation of rape.
Her name is Dr. Vanessa Tyson, and she alleges that the lawmaker forced her to perform oral sex during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, the Washington Post reports.
In a three-page statement outlining her allegations, Tyson writes that she and Fairfax met on July 26, 2004, as both were working the event. Two days later, she reports, after long work hours of having cordial, but "not flirtatious," interactions, Fairfax suggested she get some fresh air by accompanying him as he ran an errand.
"I had no reason to feel threatened and agreed to walk with him to his hotel," she wrote. "I stood in the entryway of the room and after he located the documents, he walked over and kissed me. Although surprised by his advance, it was not unwelcome and I kissed him back. He then took my hand and pulled me towards the bed. I was fully clothed in a pantsuit and had no intention of taking my clothes off or engaging in sexual activity."
The doctor claims things quickly took a dark turn.
"What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault," Tyson continued. "Mr. Fairfax put his hand behind my neck and forcefully pushed my head towards his crotch. Only then did I realize that he had unbuckled his belt, unzipped his pants, and taken out his penis. He then forced his penis into my mouth. Utterly shocked and terrified, I tried to move my head away, but could not because his hand was holding down my neck and he was much stronger than me. As I cried and gagged, Mr. Fairfax forced me to perform oral sex on him."
Tyson also details the trauma and shame she suffered in the years following the alleged incident.
"I did not speak about it for years, and I (like most survivors) suppressed those memories and emotions as a necessary means to continue my studies, and to pursue my goal of building a successful career as an academic," she wrote.
The doctor said she has been sharing her story for some time, beginning in 2017 when she told her story to friends and asked them not to vote for Fairfax.
As the #MeToo movement gained momentum, Tyson said she became increasingly motivated to tell her story publicly. That's when she reached out to a friend at The Washington Post. The paper never ran a story about Tyson's accusations, however, because its fact checkers could not corroborate her claims.
According to HuffPost, Fairfax has used this fact to maintain his innocence.
“The Post carefully investigated the claim for several months,” read a statement from the lieutenant governor's office. “After being presented with facts consistent with the lieutenant 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.”
The Post pushed back against this defense, acknowledging it wasn't able to confirm or deny Tyson's account but also stressing it found no “significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegations,” contrary to the assertions of Fairfax's team.
Fairfax has responded personally to Tyson's allegations in a tweet, writing, "I had a consensual encounter with the woman who made the allegation."
BuzzFeed News reports the lieutenant governor has hired the same law firm that represented Brett Kavanaugh during his successful Supreme Court confirmation hearings (during which he denied an allegation of rape).
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