Politics & Policy

Virginia Republicans Invite Fairfax Accusers to Testify

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

Republicans in Virginia’s House of Delegates said Friday that they plan to invite the two women who have accused Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax of sexual assault to testify before the House Courts of Justice Committee, and that Fairfax will be offered an opportunity to testify as well.

“This will give all parties a chance to be heard,” said Republican delegate Rob Bell.

Vanessa Tyson, a professor at Scripps College in California, claims Fairfax sexually assaulted her at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Meredith Watson has accused the lieutenant governor of raping her when they were undergraduates at Duke University almost 20 years ago. Both women have called on Fairfax to resign and have indicated that they are willing to testify, and Watson has accused Democratic legislators of “pure cowardice” for objecting to public hearings.

“Apparently, the Virginia House Democratic Caucus believes that courageous victims of rape need to be heard — just not by them,” a lawyer for Watson said.

Fairfax has denied both allegations and said the accusations should be investigated by law enforcement.

“The Lieutenant Governor has remained steadfast in denying the allegations against him. He has repeatedly made clear his desire for a full, fair, independent, impartial, and non-political investigation. He was the first and remains the only party to these matters to call for such an investigation in order to get to the truth,” Fairfax spokeswoman Lauren Burke said in a statement Thursday.

“It would be extraordinary and unprecedented to initiate a General Assembly inquiry about matters that are better left to law enforcement. The Lieutenant Governor remains confident that the truth will prevail and that he will be exonerated,” Burke aadded.

Virginia House speaker Kirk Cox is also considering installing a bipartisan special panel to investigate the claims against Fairfax, but so far he has not been able to get Democrats on board with the plan.

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