Politicians, including Democratic 2020 presidential candidates, are calling on Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax to resign

  • On Friday, a second woman accused Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault.
  • Meredith Watson released a statement through her attorney, accusing Fairfax of raping her in 2000 when they were both attending Duke University.
  • “At this time, Ms. Watson is reluctantly coming forward out of a strong sense of civic duty and her belief that those seeking or serving in public office should be of the highest character,” the statement said.
  • Another woman, Vanessa Tyson, came forward earlier this week with allegations against Fairfax. She accused him of sexually assaulting her in 2004.
  • Fairfax has denied these allegations.
  • Politicians, including several who are running for president, are calling on Fairfax to resign.

Lawmakers – including several Democratic presidential hopefuls – along with others are calling on Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, a Democrat, to resign after a second woman came forward with allegations of sexual assault.

Meredith Watson released a statement through her attorney, accusing Fairfax of raping her in 2000 when they were both attending Duke University. According to the statement, the two were friends but not in a romantic relationship.

“Ms. Watson shared her account of the rape with friends in a series of emails and Facebook messages that are now in our possession,” her lawyer said. “Additionally, we have statements from former classmates corroborating that Ms. Watson immediately told friends that Mr. Fairfax had raped her.”

Earlier this week, Vanessa Tyson, a professor at Scripps College in California and a fellow at Stanford University, came forward with an allegation of sexual assault. The accusation was first made public by the conservative-leaning website Big League Politics. On Wednesday, she released a statement detailing the assault, which she says happened in Boston in 2004.

Fairfax has vehemently denied these allegations, calling them “demonstrably false” and a “smear campaign,” and saying he will not resign.

“I demand a full investigation into these unsubstantiated and false allegations,” Fairfax’s spokesperson told INSIDER in a statement. “Such an investigation will confirm my account because I am telling the truth.”

The accusations against Fairfax come at a time when Virginia leadership is in turmoil. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has refused to resign amid the resurfacing of a photo from his 1984 medical-school yearbook, in which he is suspected of either wearing blackface or a Ku Klux Klan-like robe. After initially saying he was in the photo, he denied being in that specific photo but said he did wear blackface when dressing up as Michael Jackson for a dance contest. Virginia’s attorney general also said this week he wore blackface in the 1980s.

The list of those calling for Fairfax’s resignation is below, and we’ll update as needed.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a presidential candidate, called for Fairfax’s resignation, via a statement on Twitter:

Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey

Sen. Cory Booker, a presidential hopeful, called for Fairfax’s resignation on Friday.

“The multiple detailed allegations against the Lt. Gov. of Virginia are deeply troubling,” Booker said on Twitter. “They are serious, credible, and corroborated by others. It is no longer appropriate for him to serve. He should resign.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts

“These credible and troubling allegations from Dr. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson make it clear that Lt. Gov Fairfax should resign,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has launched an exploratory committee to examine a run for president in 2020, said on Twitter.

“My heart goes out to these brave women and their families.”

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat

“The allegations against Justin Fairfax are serious and credible,” former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a tweet.

“It is clear to me that he can no longer effectively serve the people of Virginia as Lieutenant Governor. I call for his immediate resignation.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Democrat from Hawaii

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“With this second serious and credible allegation of sexual assault, Justin Fairfax should resign,” Sen. Mazie Hirono said in a tweet on Friday. “This is not a partisan issue.”

“Just as with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, it took a lot of courage for Dr. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson to come forward to be heard,” the senator added. “Their courage is part of the change we need and the responsibility we all share to end the scourge of sexual violence in our country.”

5 Democratic members of the House of Representatives from Virginia

Five Democratic members of the House of Representatives from Virginia – Reps. Don Beyer, Abigail Spanberger, Elaine Luria, Jennifer Wexton, and Gerry Connolly – released a joint statement about Fairfax.

“The allegations raised by Dr. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson raise two fundamental questions, which Virginia’s leaders are called to answer: do we believe them, and, if so, do we believe that Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax should continue to serve?” the five representatives said in their statement.

“All survivors of sexual violence and harassment deserve to be supported and heard, and our commitment to that principle is more important than any political consideration,” they added.

“For these reasons, we believe that Justin Fairfax cannot continue to serve as Lt. Governor of Virginia and should step aside.”

Rep. Jennifer Wexton, a Democrat from Virginia

Additionally, Wexton, who previously served in the Virginia state senate, called on Fairfax to step down on Twitter.

“I believe Dr. Vanessa Tyson,” she said. “I believe Meredith Watson. And I believe Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax must resign.”

Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Democrat from Virginia

Along with the joint statement, Connolly of the 11th District of Virginia, released the following statement:

Rep. Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California

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“I have reviewed the publicity available information regarding sexual assault allegations made by Dr. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson,” Lieu said. “I believe Dr. Tyson. I believe Ms. Watson. Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax must resign.”

The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus

(AP Photo/Steve Helber)The State Capitol is illuminated in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019. Three of the top elected Democrats in the state are embroiled in controversy.

The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus released a statement on Friday night calling for Fairfax to resign.

“We remain steadfast in our conviction that every allegatoin of sexual assault or misconduct be treated with the utmost seriousness,” the VLBC said in their statement.

“While we believe that anyone accused of such a grievous and harmful act must receive the due process prescribed by the Constitution, we can’t see it in the bes interest of the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Lieutenant Governor to remain in his role.”

Sen. Kamala Harris a Democrat from California

“The allegations by Dr. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson are corroborated, painful stories of sexual assault and rape,” Harris said Friday night in a tweet. “It’s clear Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax should resign his office.”

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