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Fairfax accuser releases a detailed statement accusing the Virginia official of sexual assault

A Scripps College professor describes an unwanted sexual encounter from 2004.

Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax addresses the media about a sexual assault allegation from 2004 outside of the capital building in downtown Richmond on February 4, 2019
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax addresses the media about a sexual assault allegation from 2004 outside of the capital building in downtown Richmond on February 4, 2019.
Logan Cyrus/AFP/Getty Images
Anna North is a senior correspondent for Vox, where she covers American family life, work, and education. Previously, she was an editor and writer at the New York Times. She is also the author of three novels, including the New York Times bestseller Outlawed.

Vanessa Tyson, a professor at Scripps College in California, has issued a detailed statement saying that Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of Virginia sexually assaulted her in 2004.

Fairfax is in line to replace the state’s governor, Ralph Northam, should he resign. Northam is embroiled in a scandal around racist imagery on his medical school yearbook page and an admission he once wore blackface makeup.

Fairfax is a Democrat who supporters believed would be a qualified alternative to Northam, should he resign. But now he’s facing a serious accusation himself.

“What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault,” Tyson wrote in a statement released on Wednesday. “Mr. Fairfax put his hand behind my neck and forcefully pushed my head towards his crotch,” Tyson wrote. “Only then did I realize that he had unbuckled his belt, unzipped his pants, and taken out his penis. He then forced his penis into my mouth.”

“After the assault, I suffered from both deep humiliation and shame,” she wrote. “I did not speak about it for years.”

Tyson said this would be her only statement on the matter. She hired the law firm Katz, Marshall, & Banks to represent her. They also represented Christine Blasey Ford in her allegation against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Fairfax has said that the encounter in 2004 was consensual. But, Tyson wrote, “as I cried and gagged, Mr. Fairfax forced me to perform oral sex on him. I cannot believe, given my obvious distress, that Mr. Fairfax thought this forced sexual act was consensual.”

Tyson also mentioned Fairfax’s various responses to her allegation, which he has characterized as part of a smear campaign.

In a press conference, he said that a video interview in which Tyson discusses her history of sexual abuse reveals “inconsistencies” in her story, since she does not mention being assaulted by him. In the video, she says she was sexually abused by her father as a child.

“In that video I did not talk about being assaulted by Mr. Fairfax,” Tyson said in her statement. “This, of course, is not proof that he did not assault me. His reliance on this video to say the opposite is despicable and an offense to sexual assault survivors everywhere.”

“I have no political motive,” Tyson continued. “I am a proud Democrat. My only motive in speaking now is to refute Mr. Fairfax’s falsehoods and aspersions of my character, and to provide what I believe is important information for Virginians to have as they make critical decisions that involve Mr. Fairfax.”

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