Virginia Lt. Gov., Who Would Be Governor If Northam Resigns, Denies Sexual Assault Allegations
By Marie Albiges and Gordon Rago
Lt. Gov Justin Fairfax denied a report Monday that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2004.
"Everything was 100 percent consensual," Fairfax told a group of reporters at the Capitol during an impromptu press gathering.
"What I know is that the truth is 100 percent on our side," he said.
His comments came hours after The Washington Post published a story laying out details of the woman's allegations. She told The Post she and Fairfax met at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, went up to his hotel room and started kissing consensually before he guided her to the bed and eventually used his strength to force her to perform oral sex.
"This thing was not only from left field, it was from planet Mars, because it didn't happen in the way that it is described," Fairfax told reporters Monday.
Fairfax, 39, described the allegation in the Post story as "completely uncorroborated," and said it had only resurfaced because of the possibility he might become governor while Gov. Ralph Northam faces intense pressure to resign over a racist yearbook photo.
"The fact they would run a story of an uncorroborated allegation from 15 years ago tells you exactly what this smear is all about," Fairfax said.
The Post published details of its investigation Monday after Big League Politics, the conservative news outlet that first posted photos of Northam's Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook on Friday, wrote a story Sunday night about the woman's allegations.
Fairfax said the woman worked at the FleetCenter (now called TD Garden) where the 2004 DNC was held. Fairfax was 25, unmarried and working as a campaign staffer.
"We hit it off," Fairfax said. "She was very interested in me, and so eventually at one point we ended up going to my hotel room."
Fairfax said the woman was "very much into the consensual encounter."
Months after they met, the woman called him and said she wanted to meet him again. He was a student at Columbia Law School in New York at the time.
"There were no texts, there were no emails that were produced to us, by The Washington Post, by this person, because it simply didn't happen," he said.
The Post article says the woman approached the paper after Fairfax's 2017 election as lieutenant governor, "saying she felt like she had an obligation to speak out."
In a tweet early Monday, Fairfax said The Post spent months investigating but did not publish a story after being presented with "significant red flags and inconsistencies." In its story, The Post said it did not find "significant red flags and inconsistencies" but did not publish a story because it could not corroborate her account nor find similar allegations against Fairfax, even after calling people who knew him from college, law school and through political circles.
The woman told The Post she had never told anyone about what happened until shortly before she approached the newspaper.
Fairfax said that after The Post decided not to run the story, the woman "went into hiding" and decided to bring her account of what happened into the spotlight during potentially the most important career move of his life.
"It goes away for a year and crops back up at this moment," he said. "You don't have to be cynical, you don't have to understand politics, to understand when someone's trying to manipulate a process to harm someone's character without any basis whatsoever."
He said that in checking the validity of the woman's claims after The Washington Post approached him, Fairfax found a video of her from 12 years ago in which she talked about sexual assault and encouraged people to speak out against it.
"(She) never says a word about having been assaulted in Boston, being assaulted as an adult, or about having been assaulted by me," he said.
Fairfax said he didn't meet with Northam on Sunday night and hasn't spoken to him in a few days. He stood by his statement from the weekend, when he said the governor would have to make the best decision for the Commonwealth as he weighs whether to resign over the yearbook photo.
After speaking to reporters, Fairfax went back to the Senate floor to finish the work of the day.
(c)2019 the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)