Four Lt. Gov. Fairfax staffers resign in wake of sexual assault allegations

Posted at 5:37 PM, Feb 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-11 17:38:28-05

RICHMOND, Va. - Four staffers for Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax have left their positions in the wake of the sexual assault allegations against him, according to CNN.

CNN Washington correspondent Ryan Nobles confirmed that two of the staffers were from Fairfax's PAC, while the other two were from his office.

This leaves only two people working for him.

Dr. Vanessa Tyson accused Fairfax of sexual assault at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, where they both worked. According to a statement by Tyson, she says what began as "consensual kissing" turned into a sexual assault.

Fairfax said he remembered a "consensual encounter" with Tyson, but said reading her account was "painful" and that he had "never done anything like what she suggests."

Days later, Meredith Watson was the second woman to come forward accusing the lieutenant governor of sexual assault. Her lawyer, Nancy Erika Smith, released a statement saying Fairfax raped her while they were both students at Duke University in 2000.

Virginia Delegate Patrick Hope introduced plans to introduce articles of impeachment against Fairfax but he has since delayed the move, saying more dialogue is needed.

On Monday, Smith released another statement in response to Fairfax wanting due process after Tyson's and Watson's allegations:

"After Dr. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson reported that Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax raped them, Fairfax said he wanted “due process”. Impeachment hearings would have provided just that.  It turns out that Mr. Fairfax does not want due process; he wants to assault the character of his victims in secret, not in public, and certainly not under oath. Meredith Watson asks the Virginia Legislature to hold hearings, regardless of what they are called, and to reject a secret and delayed proceeding. Both victims of his sexual assault have agreed to testify and they will produce witnesses and documents to show their honesty and good character.  Please do not allow these women to be further victimized by delay and defamation."

Hope said he believes both women and said he wants to salute them for their bravery and their courage to come forward.

"I believe her [Watson]. I believe Dr. Tyson," Hope told News 3. "We've got to have a process by which we investigate. The state needs to investigate this. The Lt. Gov. has asked for an investigation. The women coming forward - Dr. Tyson and Ms. Watson - have asked for an opportunity to be heard. That's at a minimum of what we owe them, and that's what I'm committed to do."

Fairfax has vehemently denied the allegations.

"We've called for an independent investigation, and I'm still very confident in the truth," he said.

Both accusers say they are willing to testify in possible impeachment proceedings, and Watson's lawyers say they'll produce witnesses and documents.

The controversy surrounding Fairfax is the latest of the political turmoil in Richmond to unfold, following the racist photos included on Gov. Ralph Northam's 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook page and Attorney General Mark Herring's admission to wearing blackface while in college.

To read more on the sexual assault allegation against Lt. Gov. Fairfax, click here.