Virginia has been in a media firestorm for nearly 2 weeks. After Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring were reportedly in blackface, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who would be the second Black governor of Virginia if Northam resigned, was accused of sexual assault in 2004. His accuser, Vanessa Tyson, hired Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Tyson is now gaining tons of support on social media.
Tyson provided some clarity surrounding her claim when she released a detailed statement through her law firm on Wednesday.
“I cannot believe, given my obvious distress, that Mr. Fairfax thought this forced sexual act was consensual,” she wrote in part. “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 first approached the Washington 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 Northam’s medical school yearbook.
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 then 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.
In a second statement on Wednesday, Fairfax said, “I wish her 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.”
With the hashtag #IBelieveVanessa, support is flooding in for Tyson, see below: