Virginia Lieutenant Governor Faces Eroding Support From Democrats After New Accuser Speaks


A second lady got here ahead Friday with claims that she had been sexually assaulted by Lt. Gov. Justin E. Fairfax of Virginia, intensifying the weeklong political disaster within the state and main prime fellow Democrats to name for Mr. Fairfax to resign.

The lady, Meredith Watson, accused Mr. Fairfax of raping her in 2000 whereas they had been college students at Duke University, saying in a press release that his actions had been “premeditated and aggressive” and demanding that he step down instantly.

Ms. Watson spoke out two days after Vanessa C. Tyson, a political science professor from California, mentioned she was assaulted by Mr. Fairfax through the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

By Friday night time, Mr. Fairfax was going through a wave of requires his resignation. Democrats within the Virginia House and Senate urged him to step down, saying he “could no longer fulfill his duties to the commonwealth,” as did the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, a robust bloc throughout the General Assembly. Patrick Hope, a Democrat within the Virginia House, mentioned he would introduce articles of impeachment on Monday if the lieutenant governor had not resigned.

“It was her sophomore year at Duke and his senior year, and they were hanging out,’’ Ms. Smith said. “They had never dated. She had dated one of his friends. They did not have a romantic relationship. He gets up and walks out. Comes back in. Shuts off the light and locks the door. She knew things were going south when he locked the door.”

Ms. Smith said that her client did not seek medical attention or go to the police or the university administration and that Ms. Watson perceived Mr. Fairfax as a politically influential figure on campus.

A college friend of Ms. Watson’s, Kaneedreck Adams, said in an interview that Ms. Watson told her she was raped the day after she said it happened, and named Mr. Fairfax as her assailant.

“She was upset, she was kind of crying quietly and she said that she had been raped” by Mr. Fairfax, Ms. Adams said.

“I said, ‘Did you say no?’ and she said, no she couldn’t say no,” Ms. Adams said. “And she said she was trying to get out of there, get away, remove herself from the situation, and she said Justin kept pushing her down.”

Ms. Watson, who has worked as a fund-raising consultant for nonprofit companies, would not be conducting interviews discussing her allegations, a spokeswoman said.

Before Ms. Watson came forward, Mr. Fairfax had been grappling with Dr. Tyson’s allegation and repeatedly insisting that he had been falsely accused and that no corroboration existed.

But in interviews with The New York Times this week, six people said that Dr. Tyson told them over the last two years that she had been sexually assaulted at the convention, and that her account was consistent with her public statement this week. The people said she provided varying levels of detail, but three of them said she identified the assailant as either a lieutenant governor or a politician on the rise or specifically as Mr. Fairfax.

“Everything she said in her statement was exactly what she told me when we talked,” said Diane L. Rosenfeld, a founding director of the Gender Violence Program at Harvard Law School, who said Dr. Tyson told her of the alleged assault in December 2017.

“She’s not doing this for any fame,” Dr. Rosenfeld added. “She’s not suing him for money, so disbelievers and doubters can’t say, ‘Oh, she just wants money.’ She just wants, as she says, the Virginia voters to know who this person is.”

Dr. Tyson has declined to give an interview to The Times. She has said she was spurred to come forward by the realization that Mr. Fairfax might soon become Virginia governor.

In her statement, Dr. Tyson described a forced sexual encounter with Mr. Fairfax in a Boston hotel room while the two were working at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. It began with kissing that was “not unwelcome,” she said, but quickly escalated into non-consensual oral sex.

At the time of the alleged assault, Dr. Tyson was volunteering at a Boston rape crisis center. She had helped start the center’s Survivor Speakers Bureau, where she shared her story about being sexually abused as a child.

In separate interviews Thursday and Friday, five friends of Dr. Tyson said she told them of the encounter either in late 2017, early 2018 or last fall. On Friday, after The Times published its article on Dr. Tyson’s supporters, a sixth woman came forward to say Dr. Tyson had also confided in her. Susan J. McWilliams, a politics professor at Pomona College in California, said that in a conversation around the time of Mr. Fairfax’s election as lieutenant governor in 2017, Dr. Tyson told her that he had assaulted her during the 2004 convention.

“I did not know who Justin Fairfax was,” Dr. McWilliams said. “And I immediately went home and Googled him.”

The Stanford fellowship that Ms. Tyson began last fall is merely her latest academic accomplishment after a working-class upbringing in the Los Angeles area, the biracial daughter of a single white mother. Dr. Tyson graduated from Princeton in 1998 and would later tell The Princeton Alumni Weekly that she identified as African-American partly because that was the way the world saw her. “I am biracial, but I could not pass for white,” she said.

She would go on to obtain a masters and doctorate, both in political science, at the University of Chicago.

In a statement issued Thursday, Scripps College in California, where Dr. Tyson is a professor of politics, confirmed that Dr. Tyson “shared with several members of the Scripps community the details about a 2004 sexual assault,” and that those conversations “are consistent” with her written account.

Friends describe Dr. Tyson as gregarious, and a mentor to younger scholars, particularly people of color. “Academics are socially awkward people,” Dr. Brown said. “We tend to be a lot more introspective and quiet and reserved, and she pulls people out of their shells.”

Dr. Freyd, the Oregon professor who is also doing a fellowship at Stanford, said that she and Dr. Tyson have become close despite having known each other for only a few months. On Thursday, Dr. Freyd joined 35 other fellows at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences to support her.

Next Tuesday, Drs. Tyson and Freyd are planning a symposium at Stanford — arranged well before Dr. Tyson disclosed her allegations. It is titled “Betrayal and Courage in the Age of #MeToo.”



Source link Nytimes.com

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