Vanessa Tyson, the California college professor accusing Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax of sexual assault, has offered graphic new details of the incident she claims took place at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
Fairfax had been thrown into the national spotlight after a picture was released from the medical school yearbook of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam showing a person in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe, prompting nationwide calls for him to resign. Fairfax would be next in line to become governor if Northam were to resign.
But shortly after Northam’s scandal erupted, Fairfax had one of his own, in the form of a sexual assault allegation from Tyson, a professor at Scripps College in California who alleged that Fairfax assaulted her 15 years ago. As WJLA reported, Tyson has now given new details of the incident, saying that what started as a consensual romantic encounter quickly turned ugly.
Tyson claimed that Fairfax put his hand behind her neck, forcefully pushing her head toward his crotch. She said she felt empowered to come forward with her account, which she had previously revealed only to a small number of people, by speaking to the Washington Post in 2018. She said the newspaper decided not to run her story, leaving her feeling “powerless, frustrated, and completely drained” and said she again tried to bury the incident.
Statement of Dr. Vanessa Tyson, who has accused Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault in 2004:— Sarah McCammon (@sarahmccammon) February 6, 2019
“What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault.” pic.twitter.com/UI9Gz11DWj
But Fairfax’s possible ascension to governor of Virginia prompted her to come forward once more.
“The passion and resolve of so many survivors, coupled with the job security that tenure afforded me, gave me the strength I simply did not have in 2004,” Tyson said in a statement released on Wednesday.
“By December 2017, I not only told many friends that Mr. Fairfax had sexually assaulted me but I also reached out to a personal friend at the Washington Post and spoke to his colleague about the assault.”
Justin Fairfax denied the encounter, saying, “I have never done anything like what she suggests.”
Not long after Fairfax faced allegations of sexual assault, the man second in line to become Virginia’s governor admitted to a scandal of his own. Attorney General Mark Herring admitted that he wore blackface to a party in the 1980s, while he was a college freshman. If all three were to resign, then the next governor of Virginia would be Republican Kirk Cox, the speaker of the state House.
Though Justin Fairfax would have been in line to become governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam has vowed to remain in office, as USA Today noted. He said that he was not either of the people from the yearbook photo.