Virginia: second woman accuses lieutenant governor of sexual assault


Virginia Blackface Scandal Ensnares Top State Republican

New allegations from a woman named Meredith Watson, who claims Fairfax raped her in 2000 while the two were students at Duke University, prompted Democratic Virginia House of Delegates Member Patrick Hope to announce he plans to introduce articles of impeachment for Fairfax unless the Democratic lieutenant governor resigns by Monday. But within days Fairfax was fending off a scandal of his own as the same conservative website that first disclosed Northam's yearbook photo published oblique allegations that Fairfax had been accused of sexual assault. It is clear to me that he can no longer effectively serve the people of Virginia as Lieutenant Governor. It is demonstrably false.

"The allegations against Justin Fairfax are serious and credible", McAuliffe tweeted.

Tyson alleges she had an encounter with Fairfax in 2004, in which she was forced to perform oral sex on him. Last night's statement from the Virginia House Democrats affirmed that they're "disappointed" in Northam and Herring and feel "great concern" about the allegation against Fairfax but they didn't call on any to quit.

Watson's allegation is, if anything, more substantial than that of his initial accuser, Vanessa Tyson. He called on Northam to resign, saying "that would obviously be less pain for everyone".

According to her lawyer, Watson wants Fairfax to resign.

But the statement suggested a readiness to forgive the embattled state attorney general, Mark Herring, who also admitted to a blackface episode in 1980 while in college. Most of the Democratic establishment called for his resignation by the end of the day.

His disclosure stirred an outcry across partisan lines in Virginia, a key swing state in USA presidential politics whose seat of government, Richmond, is in many ways still grappling with its legacy as the former capital of the Confederacy during the American Civil War. "I have never forced myself on anyone ever", Fairfax said. He called the accusations "a vicious and coordinated smear campaign". He said there should be an investigation and Fairfax "should be afforded the presumption of innocence". The statement characterizes Fairfax's attack as "premeditated" and "aggressive".

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As for Fairfax, the congressional Democrats said the sexual assault allegations against the lieutenant governor "need to be taken very seriously" but stopped short of demanding a formal investigation.

A photo from the page of Democratic Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, which showed a person in black face and another in a Ku Klux Klan outfit, emerged on Friday.

"I can not believe, given my obvious distress, that Mr. Fairfax thought this forced sexual act was consensual".

But Fairfax is just one of three top Virginia legislators embroiled in personal scandals.

A Virginia Military Institute yearbook overseen by future state Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment in 1968 features a host of racist photos and slurs, including blackface.

Herring said he had donned blackface to imitate groundbreaking 1980s rapper Kurtis Blow, who weighed in on the matter on Friday. "As with Dr. Tyson's allegation, it needs to be investigated thoroughly because it impacts his ability to continue to serve the Commonwealth".

Ralph Northam (D) told staff on Friday that he definitely won't resign after previously leaving the door open to stepping aside, a source familiar with the meeting tells TPM.

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