Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax calls for investigation into sexual assault allegations

Geraldine Edwards
February 11, 2019

Sabato says the situation is more complicated for Fairfax, saying unlike Governor Ralph Northam, Fairfax could be facing criminal charges.

Lawyers for Meredith Watson released a statement Friday alleging that Virginia's No. 2 politician raped her in 2000, while they were both attending Duke University.

Fairfax, 39, has said his encounter with a woman who accused him of forcing himself on her sexually in Boston in 2004 was entirely consensual.

Fairfax denied Watson's allegation in a statement Friday, The Washington Post reported, saying it was "demonstrably false".

Fairfax was previously considered as a top replacement for Governor Ralph Northam when past racist photos in his medical school yearbook came to light earlier this month. A day later on February 2, Northam walked back his apology and said the yearbook photo was not of him and was added to his page without his knowledge.

Calls for Fairfax to step aside have come from state House and Senate Democrats, the Legislative Black Caucus, former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe, Virginia's two US senators - Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, also both Democrats - and several potential Democratic presidential hopefuls.

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The third Democrat Sabato is referring to is Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who this week also admitted to wearing blackface while at UVA in the 1980s.

A second woman has now accused Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax of sexual assault.

Northam has been ignoring widespread calls to resign after a photo of a man in blackface standing next to someone in Ku Klux Klan robes surfaced in his 1984 medical school yearbook.

The player's name was not released nor was the name of the school administrator. Northam had originally admitted he was one of the people in that photo, but later said that he was not.

"I'm not sure that it's true or not, but there's an allegation".

He called on "all appropriate and impartial investigatory authorities, including the FBI", to investigate the claims.

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"Our American values don't just work when it's convenient - they must be applied at the most hard of times", he said. "There are still some very deep wounds in Virginia, and especially in the area of equity", he said.

Looking ahead, Northam said he has asked his cabinet secretaries to come up with specific proposals to begin addressing issues of inequality, such as expanding access to healthcare, housing and transportation, and to begin reporting suggestions this week.

Republicans, including Trump, have predicted the scandal plaguing Virginia's top Democratic officials will give them the opportunity to make political gains in a state that's increasingly voted for Democrats in recent elections. "That really helped put things in perspective for me to better understand why someone of white privilege has the opportunities that they have when an African-American. doesn't", he said.

But according to the new poll, 47 percent of Virginians believe the governor should remain in office while and equal percentage believe he should step down.

Northam has refused to step down, despite demands from his peers and adversaries who want him to leave his post.

The statement from Watson's attorney said Fairfax used knowledge of her prior rape to plan his own attack on her in 2000.

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