RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) — Amid the political upheaval over Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s yearbook page featuring a racist photograph, a woman who accused the state’s lieutenant governor of sexual assault is consulting with a law firm.
Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax strongly denied the allegations Monday. They were initially circulated on “Big League Politics," a conservative website owned by political consultants that worked with Corey Stewart and Roy Moore.
The site was also the first to publish the photo of Northam's yearbook page, thanks to a tip from someone upset by Northam's recent comments on abortion legislation.
A woman made a private social media post in recent days, saying an office holder who assaulted her at the the Democratic National Convention was about to get “a very big promotion.”
She took her allegations to the Washington Post in the months leading up to the 2017 gubernatorial election, but the Post was unable to corroborate either her version of events or Fairfax's version with evidence because no one else was in the hotel room.
For that reason, they did not report the allegations at the time.
The woman, now a college professor, claims Fairfax sexually assaulted her after the two met during the 2004 National Democratic Convention. The lieutenant governor says the encounter was consensual.
Fairfax's team said they believe the allegations come as a part of "sad and dark politics."
"We will not only deal with this smear as we've dealt with so many other attacks over time…we've always, when we've been attacked, been elevated," Fairfax said to reporters on Monday.
However, Senator Tim Kaine responded, saying Fairfax's accuser deserves to be heard.
Now, a person close to her legal team who’s not authorized to speak publicly says the woman accusing Fairfax has 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.
If Northam were to resign or be removed from office, Fairfax, who's serving his first term in elective office, would become the second African-American governor in Virginia history.
In a statement following Northam’s bizarre press conference over the weekend, Fairfax did not join Democratic colleagues calling for the governor’s resignation. Fairfax’s statement said of Northam: “While his career has been marked by service to children, soldiers and constituents, I cannot condone the actions from his past that, at the very least, suggest a comfort with Virginia’s darker history of white supremacy, racial stereotyping and intimidation.”