David Martosko, Daily Mail, February 6, 2019
A woman came forward on Wednesday to personally accuse the Democratic lieutenant governor of Virginia of raping her during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Vanessa Tyson issued a stinging statement through her lawyers, saying: ‘What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault. Mr. Fairfax put his hand behind my neck and forcefully pushed my head towards his crotch. Only then did I realize that he had unbuckled his belt, unzipped his pants, and taken out his penis. He then forced his penis into my mouth.’
‘Utterly shocked and terrified, I tried to move my head away, but could not because his hand was holding down my neck and he was much stronger than me. As I cried and gagged, Mr. Fairfax forced me to perform oral sex on him.
‘I cannot believe, given my obvious distress, that Mr. Fairfax thought this forced sexual act was consensual. To be very clear, I did not want to engage in oral sex with Mr. Fairfax and I never gave any form of consent.’
The 39-year-old Fairfax’s political future seemed to unravel in slow-motion on Wednesday as sources told NBC News that he had snapped out of his normal mild manner to condemn Tyson during a private meeting with staff – shouting: ‘F**k that b***h!’
Lawrence Roberts, Fairfax’s chief of staff, insisted to a Washington Post reporter that the lieutenant governor never said those words: ‘Absolutely not true. I was there.’
Virginians are in danger of losing all three of their top government officials, after both Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring admitted that they had worn blackface to imitate African-Americans decades ago.
Before his own potentially disqualifying scandal erupted, Herring stood to become governor if Northam and Fairfax found the political heat too much to bear.
Herring told members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus during an emergency closed-door meeting Wednesday morning that he wore blackface on at least one occasion while he was a University of Virginia student in 1980.
‘In 1980, when I was a 19-year-old undergraduate in college, some friends suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song,’ he later said in a lengthy statement.
‘It sounds ridiculous even now writing it. But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes – and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others – we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup.’
‘This was a onetime occurrence and I accept full responsibility for my conduct. That conduct clearly shows that, as a young man, I had a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and insensitivity to the pain my behavior could inflict on others. It was really a minimization of both people of color, and a minimization of a horrific history I knew well even then.’
Herring had planned to run for Virginia in 2021. The state’s governors are limited by law to one term in office.
Mark Warner, one of Virginia’s two Democratic U.S. senators, told reporters at the Capitol in Washington: ‘I’m shocked and incredibly disappointed. This has been an awful week for Virginia.’
Fairfax’s victory as lieutenant governor made him a first-time officeholder, but the young African-American former prosecutor was seen as a rising star and one to watch on the national scene.
He stood his ground in the state Capitol building on Monday, claiming the 2004 sexual encounter was ‘100 percent consensual.’
Fairfax was at the time the personal aide to John Edwards, who was then the Democratic vice-presidential running mate of Sen. John Kerry.
‘We hit it off, she was very interested in me, and so eventually, at one point, we ended up going to my hotel room,’ he said.
Taylor is a Scripps College political science professor with a fellowship at Stanford University.
Her attorneys are the same lawyers who represented Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor who nearly derailed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation with a claim of a decades-old drunken sexual assault.
Fallout continues to accumulate from Governor Ralph Northan’s admission that he wore blackface after graduating from medical school, and a sexual assault allegation against Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax dating back 15 years.
The deepening scandal now puts Virginia’s three top officials – all of them Democrats – in danger of being forced out of office.
If they should all step down, a Republican, State Assembly Speaker Kirkland Cox, would take over the statehouse. Unless Northam were to remain governor, whoever holds his office could run for a full term in 2021 despite the state’s ‘one and your done’ term-limit law.
That outcome would mean a single November 2017 legislative race would have decided things: Election officials drew lots to determine the winner of a tied election that was decisive in awarding Republicans a one-seat edge in the assembly, and, thus, the power to Cox as speaker.
In a further twist, Cox would lead a state assembly impeachment process if lawmakers decided to try to force the embattled Democrats out.
Moving Virginia’s government into Republican hands could have a significant effect on the 2020 presidential race: The Old Dominion is a swing state where turnout, often driven by statewide officials, could determine the outcome of the White House contest.
The scandals, which have piled one on top of another since Northam’s photo was revealed on Friday, have rocked the Democratic establishment in Virginia.
Northam had a comfortable win for Democrats in 2017 – a time when the party was concerned about the power of President Donald Trump to bring out Republicans.
Fairfax has tried to peddle a political conspiracy theory and suggested Northam’s supporters were behind the allegation in an attempt to block his rise to the governorship as Northam hunkers down to weigh his options.
‘Does anybody think it’s any coincidence that on the eve of potentially my being elevated that that’s when this smear comes out?’ Fairfax told reporters in the state Capitol on Monday.
But later that day he walked it back, telling reporters he had ‘no indication’ that Northam was responsible.
The firestorm around Fairfax came as Northam continued to refuse to resign in the wake of his admission that he once covered his face in shoe polish to impersonate Michael Jackson.
Fairfax, 39, also claimed in a written statement that the Washington Post had investigated the claim when he ran for lieutenant governor but had not pursued it because of ‘significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegations.’
But within hours that claim was called ‘incorrect’ by the Washington Post, which said it had not been able to corroborate either version and had not found any ‘red flags’ in the woman’s account.
The Post did not name the woman, but the website Big League Politics -which first revealed how Northam had a picture on his medical school yearbook page of a man in blackface beside a man in a KKK outfit – revealed how Vanessa Tyson, a Stanford academic, had hinted at accusing Fairfax of assault.
It published a private social media posting made on Sunday, which Tyson was said to have given permission to make public, which said: ‘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 uo find out he’s the Democratic candidate for statewide office in a state some 3000 miles away, and we wins that election in November 2017.
‘Then by some strange, horrible luck, it seems increasingly likely that he’ll get a VERY BIG promotion.’
Tyson lives in Los Angeles, roughly 3,000 miles from Virginia, and the biographical details align with Fairfax.
She is a Scripps College professor who is currently a Stanford fellow. Her fellowship is focusing, according to the college’s website, on ‘politics and policies surrounding sexual violence against women and children in the United States.
‘More specifically, she will explore political discourse surrounding sexual assault, corresponding policies, and the unique identities of sexual assault survivors.’
It notes that Tyson, a Princeton and University of Chicago graduate, has volunteered as an advocate for sexual violence awareness and prevention. DailyMail.com has reached out to her for comment.
Fairfax and the Washington Post both confirmed that the newspaper investigated allegations of an assault at the convention – although neither named the alleged victim.
The account given in the Post said that the woman was left ‘crying and shaken.’
‘She said Fairfax guided her to the bed, where they continued kissing, and then at one point she realized she could not move her neck,’ the newspaper reported.
‘She said Fairfax used his strength to force her to perform oral sex.’
The Washington Post said Monday that it was approached by the woman in 2017 and carefully investigated but never published a story for lack of any independent evidence.
The Post said the woman had not told anyone about it, the account could not be corroborated, Fairfax denied it, and the Post was unable to find other similar allegations against him among people who knew him in college, law school or in politics.
WUSA9 was also aware of the claim and decided against airing it after it could not corroborate the story, the news channel said.
A statement from his office early Monday morning denied the assault charge and said, ‘Lt. Governor Fairfax has an outstanding and well-earned reputation for treating people with dignity and respect.
‘He has never assaulted anyone – ever – in any way, shape, or form.’
At the state capitol, Fairfax told reporters it was a ‘smear.’
Northam, meanwhile, has been hunkered down behind closed doors as he weighs his political future.
He had held on despite a disastrous five days which saw him first admit he was in the yearbook picture, then deny it, then admit he put on shoe polish to impersonate Michael Jackson, use a press conference to say it was difficult to get off, and only be stopped by his wife from Moonwalking, and be called on to resign by dozens of senior Democrats.
Northam has resisted calls from Democratic leaders to step down.
Among those calling for his resignation: Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Democratic National Committe Chairman Tom Perez, both Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Cory Booker, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Northam did not help his cause in his bizarre press conference on Saturday, Northam denied appearing in the photograph that he on Friday apologized for, but he admitted that he did wear blackface for a Michael Jackson costume the same year.
The 59-year-old from Nassawadox admitted dressing up as the late singer, wearing similar footwear, a glove and shoe polish to look like an African-American person.
Making his revelation worse, he told attendees the reason why he only wore a ‘little bit’ of shoe polish was because it’s difficult to remove.
‘I don’t know if anybody’s tried this…’ he said to the shocked room. But it didn’t explain why he was wearing blackface to show off his dance talent during the skit.
Northam told the audience during question time: ‘I have discussed this with a person of color. I apologized to him.’