Democratic Senators Call on Justin Fairfax to Resign After Second Sexual-Assault Allegation

Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

On Friday afternoon, a second woman came forward accusing Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax of sexual assault. Meredith Watson, a classmate of Fairfax’s at Duke University, claims that he assaulted her in college in 2000 in an “attack [that] was premeditated and aggressive.” Watson released a statement through her attorney calling for Fairfax to resign:

Fairfax promptly denied the allegations and said he will not resign. In a statement to the Washington Post, he said, “I deny this latest unsubstantiated allegation. It is demonstrably false. I have never forced myself on anyone ever.”

Earlier in the week, Vanessa Tyson, a professor of political science at Scripps College, came forward with an allegation that Justin Fairfax had sexually assaulted her in 2004, while they were at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Tyson claims that an encounter with Fairfax “began as consensual kissing” and “quickly turned into a sexual assault.” Democrats, including Kamala Harris, called for an investigation into the allegation, though many in the party did not call for Fairfax’s resignation because Tyson did not offer corroborating accounts.

But Meredith Watson has. Kaneedreck Adams, a friend of Watson’s at Duke who lived across the hall in on-campus housing, said that one day in the spring semester of 2000, Watson entered her room crying. “She was upset, said Adams. “She told me she had been raped and she named Justin.” Watson allegedly told Adams that the assault happened at a fraternity house: “She said she couldn’t speak, but she was trying to get up and he kept pushing her down. She said he knew that she didn’t like what was happening, but he kept pushing her down.”

Watson’s attorney also produced an email exchange from October 2016 between her client and Milagros Joye Brown, another friend from Duke, that details the alleged assault. Responding to an invitation from Brown to attend a fundraiser for Fairfax’s campaign for Lieutenant Governor, Watson wrote: “Molly, Justin raped me in college and I don’t want to hear anything about him. Please, please, please remove me form any future emails about him please.” The Daily Beast also obtained a Facebook message from March 2017 in which Watson sent an article to a friend about Fairfax: “This is absolutely disgusting! This dude raped me.”

With a second allegation backed by corroborating accounts, Democratic senators — and former Virginia Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe quickly began to call for Fairfax’s resignation, in what could soon become a critical mass:

Meanwhile, despite near-universal Democratic calls to the contrary, Governor Ralph Northam reportedly made it clear to his staff on Friday that he is not going to resign, telling his team in a meeting that he intends to serve out the three years left in his term. Last Friday, a picture of Northam’s medical school yearbook from 1984 showed the governor either in blackface, or dressed in a Ku Klux Klan hood; the next day, he admitted that on a different occasion, he had “darkened his face” as part of a Michael Jackson costume around the same time. On Wednesday, Democratic Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring, who is third in line to the governorship, also admitted to wearing blackface as part of a costume in 1980 while at the University of Virginia. Somehow, it has only been a week since the initial Northam scandal broke out.

Democratic Senators Call on Justin Fairfax to Resign