Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax, a Democrat, vigorously denied allegations of sexual assault on Feb. 4 as Gov. Ralph Northam met with his cabinet amid mounting calls for Northam to resign over a racist yearbook photo.
In a lengthy statement, Fairfax—who is next in line to be governor if Northam, also a Democrat, decides to resign—hit back at the allegation that he sexually assaulted a woman at a 2004 Democratic National Convention.
His office also warned they will take “appropriate legal action” for those attempting to spread what they described as a “defamatory and false allegation.”
“Imagine you were sexually assaulted during the DNC Convention in Boston in 2004 by a campaign staffer,“ Tyson wrote in the message that was forwarded. ”You spend the next 13 years trying to forget it ever happened. Until one day, you find out he’s the Democratic candidate for statewide office in a state some 3,000 miles away, and he wins that election in November 2017. Then, by strange, horrible luck, it seems increasingly likely that he’ll get a VERY BIG promotion.”
Although Tyson didn’t mention the lieutenant governor by name, it became obvious after Fairfax responded to the allegations. In his statement, Fairfax said the accuser went to the Washington Post with her story before he was inaugurated in 2018, but he claimed the paper found little evidence corroborating the allegation, so they decided not to publish the story.
“Tellingly, not one other reputable media outlet has seen fit to air this false claim. Only now, at a time of intense media attention surrounding Virginia politics, has this false claim been raised again,” the statement from his office reads.
But the Washington Post, meanwhile, denied the claims by Fairfax’s office.
Growing FirestormIn the meantime, the embattled Northam has been mulling his next move amid mounting calls for his resignation from fellow Democrats.
Dozens of protestors gathered at the state capitol in Richmond on Feb. 4 demanding for Northam to step down after a photo from his yearbook was released, showing one person in blackface standing next to a masked person in Ku Klux Klan robes. Northam’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Following the release of the photos, Northam apologized on Feb. 1, admitting he was one of the two before changing his story the next day, claiming he wasn’t in the photo. In his new claims, he said that he was in blackface at another time in that year during the 1980s to portray singer Michael Jackson in a dance competition.
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, told reporters on Feb. 4 that it’s “confounding to many people, it turns out, that the sitting governor... is still there despite the calls from many leaders.”