Democrat Virginia lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax is facing harsh criticism from attorneys for Dr. Vanessa Tyson, the woman who claimed that Fairfax sexually assaulted her at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 in Boston while Fairfax was serving as a “body man” for John Edwards during the presidential campaign. Big League Politics first reported Tyson’s accusation against Fairfax, and Fairfax was then accused of rape by a former Duke University classmate named Meredith Watson. Fairfax reportedly said of Tyson, “F– that B–ch” following Tyson coming forward.
Debra Katz and Lisa Banks issued a statement Thursday blasting Fairfax for his “lack of respect for survivors of sexual violence.”
Here is Tyson’s team’s statement:
“Lieutenant Governor Fairfax’s letter to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office is another political stunt that shows his lack of respect for survivors of sexual violence. As a former prosecutor, the Lieutenant Governor certainly knows that potential targets of criminal investigations do not get to direct prosecutorial decisions. Like the bogus demand he made in February 2019 for the FBI to investigate Dr. Vanessa Tyson’s sexual assault allegations against him, Lieutenant Government Fairfax knows full well that his demands that the District Attorney take action will go unanswered. Despite his protestations about the unfairness of litigating such serious allegations in the press, his letter’s distorted presentation of facts is intended to do just that.
We also note that on February 14, 2019, Lieutenant Governor’s spokesperson threatened that Mr. Fairfax would file his own criminal complaint against Dr. Tyson if she pressed criminal charges against him in Massachusetts. That threat, like others he has conveyed to sue Dr. Tyson, will not deter her from doing what’s right, but have undoubtedly been leveled by Mr. Fairfax to deter others from coming forward. His letter to the District Attorney appears intended to do the same and is a crude effort to deny agency to survivors of sexual violence. His suggestion that women are liars unless they press criminal charges against their assailants places an unfair demand on survivors and shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the criminal justice system. Pursuing criminal charges is a weighty decision that the vast majority of survivors choose not to make for legitimate reasons. Lieutenant Governor Fairfax would force survivors to rely on the criminal justice system to defend their credibility, or else remain silent about the trauma they have experienced.
The criminal justice system is not the only way government officials like Lieutenant Governor Fairfax can be held accountable for their actions. The Virginia General Assembly has its own independent responsibility to ensure that Virginia’s leaders have the character and temperament to represent the Commonwealth. Lieutenant Governor Fairfax’s letter shows yet again that he is not deserving of his position of power.”
Tyson’s team’s statement ends
Fairfax remains in office despite Terry McAuliffe calling for Fairfax to immediately resign.
Meredith Watson’s attorneys are clarifying facts about their client’s assertion that she was raped by Justin Fairfax at Duke University.
Fairfax allegedly cited Watson’s previous alleged rape by a Duke basketball player as the impetus for his alleged rape of Watson at a college party — because he figured she would stay quiet.
Here is what Watson’s attorney Nancy Erika Smith stated.
“We have heard from numerous press sources that in response to Meredith Watson revealing that Justin Fairfax raped her when she was a student at Duke, Mr. Fairfax has chosen to attack his victim again, now smearing her with the typical “she’s nuts” defense. He revealed that Ms. Watson was the victim of a prior rape. That is true. Ms. Watson was raped by a basketball player during her sophomore year at Duke. She went to the Dean, who provided no help and discouraged her from pursuing the claim further,” Smith stated.
“Ms. Watson also told friends, including Justin Fairfax. Mr. Fairfax then used this prior assault against Ms. Watson, as he explained to her during the only encounter she had with him after the rape. She left a campus party when he arrived, and he followed her out. She turned and asked: “Why did you do it?” Mr. Fairfax answered: “I knew that because of what happened to you last year, you’d be too afraid to say anything.” Mr. Fairfax actually used the prior rape of his “friend” against her when he chose to rape her in a premeditated way. Like he is smearing Dr. Vanessa Tyson, Mr. Fairfax is now smearing Ms. Watson. That’s shameful. The smears on victims of sexual assault have to stop. Why would any woman come forward with information about a powerful man knowing that he and his supporters will stop at nothing to smear and discredit them? Women come forward to support one another and to stop the culture of rape that is even more pervasive than we acknowledge,” Smith stated.
Watson’s rape claim against a former Duke basketball player is now being investigated, and coach Mike Krzyzewski has acknowledged the seriousness of the matter.
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