Fairfax accuser calls for General Assembly to hold hearing

Credit: Scripps College
Credit: Scripps College

RICHMOND, Va. – An accuser of Virginia Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is calling for the General Assembly to hold a bipartisan hearing. 

Dr. Vanessa Tyson first described an alleged sexual assault by Fairfax on "CBS This Morning" on Monday after coming forward in February. 

During the interview, she talked about an encounter with Fairfax at a convention in 2004 and said that she still wanted him to resign from office. 

“The voters of Virginia have a right to know both my story and Meredith's story,” Tyson said, referring to Fairfax’s second accuser, Meredith Watson.

Tyson went on to say she finds it “disgraceful” that Fairfax compared himself to a lynching victim in comments he made after she came forward.

Fairfax has repeatedly denied the allegations. He issued a statement Sunday saying he passed polygraph tests that show he’s telling the truth when he says the encounters were consensual.

Below is the full statement sent out Wednesday by Tyson's lawyers: 

Since their allegations became public in February 2019, Dr. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson have made clear they believe the people of Virginia deserve to hear about the sexual assault and trauma they experienced at the hands of Lt Governor Justin Fairfax.  They have asked the members of Virginia’s legislature to come together to determine a process that would provide due process to all parties while allowing the people of Virginia to judge for themselves whether Lt. Governor Fairfax deserves to hold his position of trust and power. Given the General Assembly’s inaction, Dr. Tyson decided to appear and answer questions about the incident in a national television interview.  

Today Lt. Governor Fairfax made a public statement to members of the media in which he responded in a piecemeal fashion to the accounts of both women.  He insists that he is fit to serve as Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor unless he is convicted in criminal court.  However, a politician’s fitness for office is wholly independent of the workings of the criminal justice system.  We believe Lt. Governor Fairfax’s statement to the media further exemplifies the need for a bipartisan public hearing in which all sides have an equal opportunity to testify under oath and present facts and evidence.  It is unclear why Lt. Governor Fairfax is refusing to appear and testify under oath in the General Assembly about his past conduct.

While Dr. Tyson and her legal team have been in touch with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and she has not ruled out pursuing criminal charges, the Virginia General Assembly must fulfill its responsibility to the people of Virginia to ensure the integrity of the Commonwealth's leadership.  Reports have indicated that Virginia’s legislators are at a political standstill and unable to agree on a way to allow all parties to testify in public and under oath.  Sexual assault is not a partisan issue.  The failure of the Virginia legislature to provide all sides the opportunity to be heard sends a devastating message to sexual assault survivors in the Commonwealth that their state representatives will silence them in order to gain political advantage.  We hope that the General Assembly and Lt. Governor Fairfax will agree to hold an open, fair hearing where all parties can come forward to provide information about this serious matter.

About the Authors: