Published: Sun, February 10, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Embattled Virginia leader wants to focus on racial equity

Embattled Virginia leader wants to focus on racial equity

A second woman has come forward with sexual assault allegations against Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in the United States (US) Justin Fairfax.

In response to Fairfax's denials, Meredith Watson's lawyer released a statement claiming she was also raped by a basketball player and, when she reported the attack to a school administrator, received no assistance.

"Justin Fairfax doesn't seem to have many, if any, Democrats who are out there defending him which leads me to ask 'what did you know?'" she said. "The two were friends but never dated or had any romantic relationship". Kaneedreck Adams, a friend of Watson's at Duke who lived across the hall in on-campus housing, said that one day in the spring semester of 2000, Watson entered her room crying.

"Due to the serious nature of these allegations, we believe Lieutenant Governor Fairfax can no longer fulfill his duties to the Commonwealth", Democrats in both chambers said in a statement Friday night.

"Lt. Governor Fairfax has an outstanding and well-earned reputation for treating people with dignity and respect", read a statement from Fairfax's chief of staff and communications director.

While she is not calling for any criminal or civil action to be taken against Fairfax, she says he should step down.

Her legal team said in the statement that they have accounts from former classmates corroborating that she told them about the rape at that time. Northam said the experience, as well as week of reports highlighting his behavior, has taught him that the incident could be therapeutic. He called the allegation "demonstrably false".

Fairfax vowed to clear his "good name" and noted he has passed Federal Bureau of Investigation background checks and run for office "with nothing like this being raised before".

That's shameful. The smears on victims of sexual assault have to stop.

Northam's interview caps off a tumultuous week in Virginia state goverment. "The time has come for him to step down".

It also has stirred Democrats' concerns that political discord in Virginia, a key swing state in presidential elections, could flip it back into the Republican column in the 2020 White House race.

Governor Ralph Northam is also under fire over a racist yearbook photo. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Virginia), Sen.

Fairfax, 39, insisted earlier this week that his encounter with a woman who has accused him of forcing himself on her sexually at a hotel in Boston in 2004 was entirely consensual. Consequently, I call on all appropriate and impartial investigatory authorities, including the FBI, to investigate fully and thoroughly the allegations against me by Ms. Watson and Dr. Tyson.

On Friday, a law firm representing the second woman, Meredith Watson, issued a statement on her behalf outlining her allegation. A cascade of calls for Fairfax to resign began Friday evening, mirroring the exact timing of last week's calls for Northam to resign.

"A week ago nearly exactly, Justin Fairfax seemed to be just hours away from taking the oath of office as governor and now the governor is staying in and he may be the one to go", Sabato said. I want to stand here in that truth and restate that my truth, as well as the truth of Dr. Tyson and Ms. Watson, should be fully investigated and thoroughly assessed.

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