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Fairfax: Sexual-Assault Claim a ‘Smear’ Meant to Block Path to Governor’s Mansion

Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax speaks on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., November 7, 2017. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

Virginia lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax on Monday called the sexual-assault allegation leveled against him Sunday night a “smear” and implied the claim was publicized by political enemies intent on blocking his ascent to the governorship.

“Does anybody think it’s any coincidence that on the eve of potentially my being elevated that that’s when this uncorroborated smear comes out?” Fairfax told reporters at the state capitol when asked if he believed the claim, advanced by the liberal Collective PAC, that embattled governor Ralph Northam’s team disseminated the allegation.

Fairfax is poised to assume the governorship should Northam cave to the mounting calls for his resignation, which began Friday after it was revealed that a photo depicting one man in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan uniform was featured on his 1984 medical-school-yearbook page. Northam initially apologized and conceded that he did appear in the photo on Friday evening. Then, during a Saturday afternoon press conference, he rescinded the admission and said that, while he did not appear in the photo in question, he did “darken his face” with shoe polish for a Michael Jackson costume he wore in college.

Without naming him specifically, an unnamed woman accused a politician that fit Fairfax’s description of sexually assaulting her in a hotel room during the Democratic National Convention in 2004 in a post published Sunday night by Big League Politics, the right-wing website that first published the Northam yearbook photo.

Fairfax admitted to having a consensual sexual encounter with the woman in a Monday statement but denied ever having assaulted anyone, citing the Washington Post‘srefusal to publish, and inability to corroborate, the women’s claims as evidence of his innocence.

 

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