Justin Fairfax, the lieutenant governor of Virginia who has faced an accusation that he sexually assaulted a woman at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, has been accused of raping a classmate at Duke University in 2000, according to media reports.
In a statement, Meredith Watson’s attorney says the attack was “premeditated and aggressive”: “Ms. Watson shared her account of the rape with friends in a series of emails and Facebook messages that are now in our possession. Additionally, we have statements from former classmates corroborating that Ms. Watson immediately told friends that Mr. Fairfax had raped her.”
The first allegation against Fairfax surfaced days after news broke that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam had appeared in blackface in a photo in a medical school yearbook—and then, the following, said he hadn’t been in that photo, but he had appeared in blackface at a party—and pressure began to mount on him to resign and elevate Fairfax to power. Since then, the state’s third-highest-ranking elected official, the attorney general, has also admitted to appearing in blackface in college.
If those three politicians—all Democrats—were to resign their office, the governorship would go to the Republican House Speaker, Kirk Cox, who is Speaker because in one legislative district, the candidates tied, the race was decided by pulling a name out of a bowl, and the Republican prevailed. Virginia politics is a strange business these days.
Fairfax has denied both allegations against him. Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring have given no indication that they plan to resign—though a poll out today found that Virginians want Northam to resign by a 2–1 margin.
Update: Fairfax is being asked to step down from the Sanford School Board of Visitors, which supports and advises the dean of Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy.
In an email addressed to the Sanford community, Dean Judith Kelley wrote “Justin Fairfax will be asked to step down from the Sanford School Board of Visitors pending the resolution of the serious and deeply distressing allegations that have been made against him.”
“Sexual assault is abhorrent and unfortunately can occur right around us,” she continued. “I urge everyone to take survivors of sexual assault seriously, and to help build an environment that is safe and supportive for everyone.”