Lt. Gov. Fairfax denies Dr. Tyson's account of sexual assault

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RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) — UPDATE (5:25 p.m.):

Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax has issued a new statement in response to Dr. Vanessa Tyson's public statement detailing her allegation that he forced her to perform oral sex in 2004 during the Democratic National Convention.

"Reading Dr. Tyson's account is painful. I have never done anything like what she suggests.

As I said in my statement this morning, I have nothing to hide.

Any review of the circumstances would support my account, because it is the truth. I take this situation very seriously and continue to believe Dr. Tyson should be treated with respect. But, I cannot agree to a description of events that simply is not true.

I support the aims of the MeToo movement and I believe that people should always be heard and the truth should be sought. I wish Dr. Tyson the best as I do our Commonwealth.

Fairfax earlier stated that his encounter with Tyson in 2004 was consensual, and he maintains that stance.

If Northam were to resign or be removed from office over the scandal surrounding a blackface photo on his 1984 yearbook page , Fairfax, who's serving his first term in elective office, would become the second African-American governor in Virginia history.

The next in succession after Fairfax would be Attorney General Mark Herring, who admitted on Wednesday to wearing blackface during a party at UVA in the 1980s.

Following Herring would be Republican Speaker of the House Kirk Cox, who attained his seat after a draw in a Virginia delegate race led to a name pulled out of a ceramic bowl, giving Republicans the majority in the House of Delegates.

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UPDATE (2:30 p.m.):

The woman whose sexual assault allegations against Virginia's lieutenant governor surfaced this week is speaking publicly about the encounter.

Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has repeatedly denied her allegations, saying the encounter was consensual.

Vanessa Tyson issued a statement Wednesday saying Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex in 2004 during the Democratic National Convention in Boston. The Associated Press typically does not identify those who say they were sexually assaulted, but Tyson issued the statement in her name.

Earlier Wednesday, Fairfax issued a statement saying the woman expressed no discomfort at the time, or during the years afterward. He said he first heard about her accusation from a reporter in 2018.

Tyson said she went to Fairfax's hotel room so he could get documents. She said they began consensually kissing but he then forced her into oral sex. She said she couldn't move her head because he was holding down her neck.

Tyson has not responded to messages from The AP seeking comment.

You can read Tyson's full statement here.

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Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax says a woman alleging sexual misconduct never told him she was uncomfortable with what happened during the encounter or in the years after.

Fairfax issued a statement Wednesday reiterating his stance that he had a consensual encounter with the woman 15 years ago. He said he was an unmarried law student at the time.

The Associated Press is not reporting the details of the Fairfax accusation because the AP has not been able to corroborate it. The woman making the accusation hasn't returned messages from the AP seeking comment.

However, the Washington Post reported that they did not report her allegation in the 2017 election because they were unable to corroborate either the woman or Fairfax's version of events because no one else was in the hotel room.

The woman, now a college professor, claims Fairfax sexually assaulted her after the two met during the 2004 National Democratic Convention.

Fairfax's legal team issued an earlier statement labeling it a "smear" and threatening legal action against the woman.

In response, a person close to her legal team who’s not authorized to speak publicly says she retained Washington law firm Katz Marshall & Banks and is consulting about next steps. The person insisted on anonymity.

A founding partner of that firm, Debra Katz, represented Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her decades ago when they were teenagers. He denied the allegation and was confirmed to the court this past year after hearty support by Republicans in Congress.

In Fairfax's most recent statement, he says the woman expressed no discomfort at the time, or during the years afterward. He said the first he heard about the accusation was when he was approached by a news outlet in 2018 after his inauguration.

"As a former prosecutor and someone who is close with a number of women who are survivors of sexual assault, I know that many survivors of sexual assault suffer in silence, and it is absolutely essential to their healing and our healing as a culture that we give all survivors the space and support to voice their stories," he said in the statement.

A report by NBC News alleged that Fairfax used profanity to insult the woman in a private meeting this week. Fairfax addressed that claim in the statement Wednesday.

"I would like to encourage the media, my supporters, and others to treat both the woman who made this allegation and my family with respect for how painful this situation can be for everyone involved. I wish her no harm or humiliation, nor do I seek to denigrate her or diminish her voice," Fairfax said.

If Northam were to resign or be removed from office over the scandal surrounding a blackface photo on his 1984 yearbook page , Fairfax, who's serving his first term in elective office, would become the second African-American governor in Virginia history.

The next in succession after Fairfax would be Attorney General Mark Herring, who admitted on Wednesday to wearing blackface during a party at UVA in the 1980s.

Following Herring would be Republican Speaker of the House Kirk Cox, who attained his seat after a draw in a Virginia delegate race led to a name pulled out of a film canister, giving Republicans the majority in the House of Delegates.

Below is Fairfax's full statement:

I’d like to begin by emphasizing how important it is for us to listen to women when they come forward with allegations of sexual assault or harassment. As a former prosecutor and someone who is close with a number of women who are survivors of sexual assault, I know that many survivors of sexual assault suffer in silence, and it is absolutely essential to their healing and our healing as a culture that we give all survivors the space and support to voice their stories.

Regarding the allegation that has been made against me – while this allegation has been both surprising and hurtful, I also recognize that no one makes charges of this kind lightly, and I take it and this situation very seriously.

This has been an emotional couple of days for me and my family. And in my remarks on Monday, I think you could hear how emotional dealing with an allegation that I know is not true has been for me.

As I have stated previously, fifteen years ago, when I was an unmarried law student, I had a consensual encounter with the woman who made the allegation. At no time did she express to me any discomfort or concern about our interactions, neither during that encounter, nor during the months following it, when she stayed in touch with me, nor the past fifteen years. She in no way indicated that anything that had happened between us made her uncomfortable.

The first indication I had that she felt that anything that had happened between us fifteen years ago made her uncomfortable was when I was contacted by a national media organization shortly before my inauguration in 2018. I voluntarily met with their staff, in person, told them what I knew about the encounter and responded to all of their questions. I also shared the allegation and my account of the events with a number of leaders in Richmond because then, as now, I have nothing to hide.

I would like to encourage the media, my supporters, and others to treat both the woman who made this allegation and my family with respect for how painful this situation can be for everyone involved. I wish her no harm or humiliation, nor do I seek to denigrate her or diminish her voice. But I cannot agree with a description of events that I know is not true.

If we learned anything from the past week, it’s that we have to listen to people’s experiences to learn from them so we can make progress. Like many of you, I’ve spent time over the last several days discussing difficult subjects with people very close to me. I believe that if we continue to listen, we will continue to make the progress that makes the Commonwealth of Virginia a unique place, not only in the South, but in the United States of America.

These are unprecedented and difficult times. We have the opportunity to prove ourselves worthy of the challenge and come together. I look forward to continuing my work to unify the Commonwealth.