Virginia Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax launched his campaign for the governor’s mansion Saturday while still haunted by allegations of sexual misconduct by two women from more than a decade ago.
Fairfax, 41, was accused in February 2019 after his election to Virginia’s lieutenant governor in 2017.
According to Fox5, a local Washington D.C. Fox affiliate, Fairfax stands accused by Meredith Watson, a former Duke University classmate of a 2000 rape, and Vanessa Tyson, a California professor charging Fairfax with forced oral sex at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Fairfax first faced calls for his resignation following the two women coming forward but has since refused, denying the charges as nothing more than a “smear campaign” lodged against him to thwart his political ambitions.
“Lt. Governor Fairfax has an outstanding and well-earned reputation for treating people with dignity and respect,” Fairfax’s office released in a statement when news of the allegations first broke. “He has never assaulted anyone — ever — in any way, shape, or form.”
— Justin Fairfax (@LGJustinFairfax) February 4, 2019
“The voters are incredibly smart,” Fairfax told the Associated Press last week in the run-up to his campaign announcement Saturday. “They see through this kind of destructive, politically motivated kind of politics. And they are ready to move to higher ground.”
Fairfax and Virginia Democrats have rejected calls for hearings into the accusations ever since they became public.
“Apparently Lt. Governor Fairfax believes that the citizens of the Commonwealth have forgotten about the serious and credible allegations of sexual assault made against him by Dr. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson and about his deplorable treatment of them after they came forward,” Tyson’s attorney, Debra Katz said in a statement.
Katz is well known for her previous representation of high-profile women accusing prominent men of sexual misconduct such as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.