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Second woman accuses Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault

“Mr. Fairfax’s attack was premeditated and aggressive,” Meredith Watson says in a statement.

Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax presides over the Senate at the Virginia State Capitol, February 7, 2019 in Richmond, Virginia
Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax presides over the Senate at the Virginia State Capitol, February 7, 2019 in Richmond. 
Drew Angerer/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.

A second woman has come forward to accuse Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault.

Earlier this week, Vanessa Tyson, a professor of politics at Scripps College, issued a statement saying that Fairfax assaulted her in 2004, during the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Fairfax has denied her allegation, which was first reported by the conservative website Big League Politics, saying their sexual encounter was consensual.

The accusation came at a time of turmoil in Virginia, as Gov. Ralph Northam continues to face calls to resign following the publication of a racist photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook page. If he were to resign, Fairfax would replace him as governor.

Now, a woman named Meredith Watson says that Fairfax raped her in 2000, when both were students at Duke University, according to the Washington Post.

“Mr. Fairfax’s attack was premeditated and aggressive,” Watson said in a statement through her attorney. “The two were friends but never dated or had any romantic relationship.”

“Ms. Watson hopes he will resign from public office,” the statement reads.

“I deny this latest unsubstantiated allegation,” Fairfax said in a statement to the Post. “It is demonstrably false. I have never forced myself on anyone ever.”

“I demand a full investigation into these unsubstantiated and false allegations,” the statement said. “I will clear my good name and I have nothing to hide.”

In her statement, Watson says she told friends about the rape soon after it happened, in emails and Facebook messages now in the possession of her lawyer.

Kaneedreck Adams, who lived across from Watson in on-campus housing at Duke at the time, told the Post that Watson came to her crying.

“She was upset,” Adams said. “She told me she had been raped and she named Justin.”

The crisis in Virginia has continued to grow in recent days, as Attorney General Mark Herring, who would become governor if both Northam and Fairfax stepped down, revealed that he had worn blackface at a party as an undergraduate. If Herring, Fairfax, and Northam all stepped down, the governorship would pass to the speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, Republican Kirk Cox.

On Friday, Northam told staff he would not resign, according to Talking Points Memo and the Associated Press.

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