The future for Virginia’s lieutenant governor was unclear as a second woman came forward to say he sexually assaulted her more than a decade ago. Meredith Watson said on Friday that Justin Fairfax raped her while they were students at Duke University in 2000, according to a new report from the Washington Post. Watson’s claim came less than a week after Vanessa Tyson said Fairfax forced her to give him oral sex during the summer of 2004.
Public support for Tyson has been steadily growing since she released a statement detailing her accusation. And although she said she has no intention of seeking any charges against Fairfax, the legal door remained open for officials in Boston, where Tyson was allegedly sexually assaulted, and North Carolina, where Watson said she was raped.
The statute of limitations in Massachusetts for criminal allegations of a sexual nature is 15 years, which means local law enforcement in Boston has up until some point in July this year to file charges against Fairfax. Neither the Boston Police Department nor the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office has commented on that possibility, according to Fox News.
But in North Carolina, there is no statute of limitations for first-degree forcible rape, according to “RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.”
That means that law enforcement in both states have time to decide whether they think there is a viable case to prosecute.
Watson’s lawyer told the Post that her client only wants Fairfax to resign. That echoed the sentiments of Tyson, who said she only went public after she saw Fairfax was on the verge of being elevated to governor when it was discovered Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has racist images on his medical school yearbook page.
When Tyson learned that Fairfax said she was lying about her claims, she “felt a jarring sense of both outrage and despair,” she wrote in a statement released Wednesday.
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.
“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,” the statement also said.
The still unfolding episode began Friday when a rightwing website published the damning photos from Northam’s yearbook showing one white man in blackface and another man dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood. Northam first denied either of the men was him before he said there was a chance he could be one of them. The combination of the reports prompted many to believe Northam was on the verge of resigning, which would have meant Fairfax would be the new governor of Virginia.
However, Northam has refused to resign, even as Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring admitted Wednesday that he, too, has worn blackface in the past.
Fairfax has denied Tyson’s claims and did not immediately respond to the new reports from Watson. Presidential candidate and California Sen. Kamala Harris has been among those calling for the claims against Fairfax to be investigated.
“I wish [Tyson] no harm or humiliation, nor do I seek to denigrate her or diminish her voice, but I cannot agree with a description of events that I know is not true,” Fairfax said in a brief statement Wednesday.