Justin Fairfax Placed on Leave by His Law Firm After Rape Allegation
David Mark, Washington Examiner, February 11, 2019
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has been placed on leave by his law firm as it investigates the sexual assault allegations against him.
Washington, D.C.-based Morrison Foerster “has retained outside counsel to conduct an investigation. During the investigation, Justin Fairfax has taken a leave of absence from Morrison & Foerster. Justin has agreed to cooperate with the firm’s investigation,” Larren M. Nashelsky, chairman of the firm, said in a statement.
A number of prominent Democrats, including former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, and several members of Congress have called on Fairfax to resign but it could be that financial pressure is what forces him out.
The law firm’s decision is a major blow for Fairfax, depriving him of his main source of income.
Outside employment is common for Virginia lieutenant governors. Other than serving as presiding office — and potential tiebreaking vote — in the state Senate, the lieutenant governor has only a smattering of other official duties. The job pays $36,321 annually.
On Feb. 4, it emerged that Fairfax, 39, a rising Democratic star, had been accused by college professor Vanessa Tyson of sexual assault at a hotel during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. On Feb. 8, a second woman, Meredith Watson, came forward with sexual assault allegations against Fairfax, alleging that he raped her while both were undergraduates at Duke University.
Fairfax has denied both charges, saying his encounters with the women were consensual. Fairfax has said repeatedly he won’t resign from his state office, and has called for the FBI to probe the accusations.