RICHMOND, Va. – The latest controversy in what’s been a haywire week in Richmond involves a woman accusing Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault.
The Washington Post said today that the 2004 incident involved a forced sexual act.
Fairfax denies the claims, saying the sexual encounter was consensual, and the woman is coming forward now because he could soon be governor.
“To have someone manipulate the press and to come out a year ago, fail at getting that into the media, then go away and then when they think they have an opportunity at a maximum media attention point to come back again to the same false, uncorroborated allegation, tells you everything you need to know about the falsity of it," said Fairfax.
Fairfax says the woman called him months later and wanted to meet up, and that he thinks the Post would have run the story a year ago if her claims were true.
“It’s such a shame that this has been weaponized and used as a smear because this is a very real issue," said Fairfax. "I’m someone who has treated women with respect and always observed certain decorum. I think everybody should be heard, but here’s what’s very important. She was heard by The Washington Post and The Washington Post didn’t believe her.”
Fairfax still will not say if he thinks the governor should resign. He says he hasn’t talked with the chief executive since Saturday afternoon’s press conference.
As to whether Fairfax feels he’s ready to be governor, he said, “We always have to be prepared.”
This comes as people continue to protest against Northam’s decision to remain in office. About 30 people gathered near the executive mansion Monday.
Many say they supported him and even canvassed for him, but now they feel betrayed.
Inside the Capitol building, most lawmakers -- including most of his fellow Democrats -- say Northam should step down.
But Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox says impeachment is likely not an option.
"That's a very high standard," said Cox. "And so I think that's why we've called for resignation. We hope that's what the governor does. I think that would obviously be less pain for everyone."
As of Monday night, Northam is thinking about what to do next. He's asking for support from his cabinet and administration officials.
The Washington Post reports Governor Northam met with his cabinet Monday morning in an emotional meeting, asking for time to clear his name.
Cabinet members said they’d give him time, and the majority said they'd stick with him. But many, even those inside his inner circle, are asking how he can go forward and effectively lead the Commonwealth.
CNN reports that in a meeting last night with top administration officials, each person said they would not support him remaining governor.