A hashtag, #IBelieveVanessa, is getting a growing number of contributors on Twitter from people who support the Scripps College professor who accused Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault—which he has denied.
Educator and political commentator Melissa Harris-Perry is among those who have sided with Vanessa Tyson.
Tyson released a statement in which she officially identified herself as the accuser in the alleged July 2004 encounter, The Washington Post reported.
“I cannot believe, given my obvious distress, that Mr. Fairfax thought this forced sexual act was consensual. To be very clear, I did not want to engage in oral sex with Mr. Fairfax and I never gave any form of consent. Quite the opposite. I consciously avoided Mr. Fairfax for the remainder of the Convention and I never spoke to him again,” Tyson’s statement said in part.
This statement adds to the growing turmoil for Virginia’s top elected Democrats. The state’s governor and attorney general have admitted recently to wearing blackface in the 1980s.
Tyson first approached The Post about her allegation in November 2017 after Fairfax won his election. But the newspaper said it declined to publish her story because it could not corroborate either her version or Fairfax’s recollection of exactly what happened.
Tyson’s allegation was resurfaced recently by Big League Politics, a fringe right-wing news website that also published the racist photographs from Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical school yearbook.
Here are tweets from more of Tyson’s supporters.
Fairfax and Tyson first met in Boston at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. She recalled Fairfax asking her to walk with him to his hotel room to retrieve some papers. Tyson said the sexual encounter began with consensual kissing. But she said Fairfax guided her to the bed and forced her to perform oral sex. Fairfax, who was not married at the time, has described the encounter as consensual.
On Monday, Fairfax threatened legal action against Big League Politics for its “false and unsubstantiated allegations” based on Tyson’s claim. The lieutenant governor said in his statement that The Post found “significant red flags and inconsistencies” in Tyson’s story.
However, the newspaper denied Fairfax’s claim about find red flags when it investigated Tyson’s allegations and underscored that it simply could not corroborate either version of the encounter.