Second woman accuses Va. lieutenant governor of sexual assault
A woman said Friday she was raped by Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, a Democrat, in a ‘‘premeditated and aggressive’’ assault in 2000, while they both were undergraduate students at Duke University.
Through her attorney, Meredith Watson said she shared her account of sexual assault immediately after it happened with several classmates, who have provided statements. Her lawyer also said she shared her account with friends in a string of emails and Facebook messages.
Watson was friends with Fairfax at Duke but they never dated or had any romantic relationship, her lawyer said.
‘‘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,’’ said her attorney, Nancy Erika Smith in a statement Friday. ‘‘She has no interest in becoming a media personality or reliving the trauma that has greatly affected her life. Similarly, she is not seeking any financial damages.’’
Watson wants Fairfax to resign from office, Smith said.
Fairfax’s spokeswoman, Lauren Burke, said ‘‘we’re calling for an investigation on all of these matters.’’ She said Fairfax would have further response later.
Her claim comes two days after at the end of a turbulent week which began when a different woman, Vanessa Tyson, accused Fairfax of sexually assaulting her in 2004 when both were in Boston to attend the Democratic National Convention.
Fairfax vehemently denied that he assaulted Tyson, said he was the victim of a ‘‘smear’’ and has said repeatedly that they had a consensual encounter.
Smith said the details of Watson’s attack are similar to those described by Tyson.
Kaneedreck Adams, 40, an attorney who attended Duke with Watson and said in the spring of 2000, when they lived across from each other in on-campus apartments, Watson came to her crying.
‘‘She was upset,’’ Adams said. ‘‘She told me she had been raped and she named Justin.’’
All week, Democrats and Republicans have been treading carefully regarding Tyson’s allegation, unsure what to believe because Tyson offered no corroborating evidence. Several have called for investigation.
Watson’s claim is likely to further stoke chaos in Richmond, where one week ago, a racist photo on the 1984 medical school yearbook page of Gov. Ralph Northam, D, was unearthed, setting off calls for his resignation. On Wednesday, Attorney General Mark Herring disclosed that he wore blackface as part of a costume during college in 1980.
If Northam were to step down, Fairfax would be next in line. And he was preparing to do just that, after scandal enveloped Northam and before Tyson accused Fairfax of sexual assault.
Fairfax, a 39-year-old former federal prosecutor, has been a rising star in Democratic politics. The great-great-great-grandson of a slave, he is the second African American to hold statewide office in Virginia.
Until this week, Fairfax was best known for silently protesting the state Senate’s annual tribute to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.