The woman who accused Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax of sexual assault released a statement on Wednesday detailing her allegations. Dr. Vanessa Tyson, an associate professor at Scripps College in Claremont, California, said in a statement released through her lawyers that Fairfax sexually assaulted her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts.
“What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault,” Tyson wrote. She went on to describe Fairfax pushing her face toward his crotch, then forcing her to “perform oral sex on him.”
Tyson said in the statement that she was flooded with “painful memories” of the assault and “feelings of grief, shame, and anger” after learning that Fairfax may soon become the next governor of Virginia.
Fairfax is poised to succeed Governor Ralph Northam if he chooses to step down after a rightwing news outlet published photos from his medical school yearbook in which a person in blackface stands next to a person wearing Ku Klux Klan robes. (Northam has resisted calls for his resignation, and denies he was in the photo. He later admitted to wearing blackface to imitate Michael Jackson in a separate incident.)
“I did not speak about it for years,” wrote Tyson. “And I (like most survivors) suppressed those memories and emotions as a necessary means to continue my studies and pursue my goal of building a successful career as an academic.”
Tyson is represented by the same legal team that previously represented Christine Blasey Ford.
Last week, the rightwing news site Big League Politics—the same outlet that first published the photos from Northam’s medical school yearbook—published a story about Tyson’s allegations. Their reporting was based on a private Facebook post written by Tyson, which a friend of Tyson’s reportedly submitted to Big League Politics. Tyson’s Facebook post didn’t mention names, but alluded to Fairfax, who Vox reports was a John Kerry’s campaign staffer in 2004.
From the post:
Imagine you were sexually assaulted during the DNC Convention in Boston in 2004 by a campaign staffer. You spend the next 13 years trying to forget it ever happened. Until one day you find out he’s the Democratic candidate for statewide office in a state some 3000 miles away, and he wins that election in November 2017. Then by strange horrible luck, it seems increasingly likely that he’ll get a VERY BIG promotion.
Tyson first approached The Washington Post with the story of her alleged assault after Fairfax won his lieutenant governor’s race in 2017, but the Post could not corroborate the story.
Early on February 4, after Big League Politics published their story, Fairfax’s chief of staff and communications director released a statement denying the allegations:
The release relied on The Washington Post’s investigation as proof of Fairfax’s innocence and added, “Tellingly, not one other reputable media outlet has seen fit to air this false claim.”
Virginia politics is an absolute shitshow right now: As Northam juggles resignation and Fairfax denies Tyson’s claims, it was reported on Wednesday morning that Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring—third in the line of gubernatorial succession—revealed that he wore blackface at a college party in the 1980s.
Good fucking lord.