RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Another controversy erupted at the state capitol Monday, after sexual assault allegations surfaced against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax- which he vehemently denies.
This comes as Fairfax could become governor in the event Gov. Ralph Northam resigns, following the release of a racist photo that appeared on his 1984 yearbook page.
Fairfax is strongly condemning the claims made against him by a woman he met in 2004, during the Democratic National Convention in Boston, calling the allegations from 'planet Mars.’
He did acknowledge there was a sexual encounter with the woman, who is now a college professor. But he said the relations were consensual.
“I was 25 years old, unmarried, a campaign staffer, at the time," said Fairfax. "We hit it off. She was very interested in me and so at one point, we ended up going to my hotel room... She was very much into consensual encounter…”
The Washington Post confirms the woman did approach the paper a year ago with her claims. In an article published by The Washington Post on Monday, the paper disputes that if found “significant red flags” and said Fairfax and the accuser gave different accounts of the event, but that neither version could be corroborated since they were the only people in the room. The Washington Post ultimately decided not to run the woman’s story.
Fairfax said he would rise above the attack.
“We will not only deal with this smear as we’ve dealt with so many other attacks over time," he said. "We‘ve always... when we’ve been attacked... been elevated.”
Collective PAC, a Democratic political action group supporting African American candidates, released a statement alleging Governor Northam’s team was ‘spreading lies’ to the media in an attempt to quell support for Fairfax.
Fairfax didn’t openly back the Collective Pac’s statement, but did say he believes the sexual assault allegations are politically motivated in some way.
“Does anybody think it’s any coincidence on the eve of my potentially being elevated, that’s when this uncorroborated smear comes out? Does anybody believe that’s a coincidence?”
The Virginia Black Caucus was one of the first groups to call on Governor Northam’s resignation. Now, that same group says it is taking a close look at the allegation against Fairfax and says it must be taken with “utmost seriousness.”
The site “Big League Politics” shared the private post from a woman who said an office holder who assaulted her at the the Democratic National Convention was about to get “a very big promotion.” She says her attacker won a statewide office in 2017.
Northam is facing widespread calls for his resignation but Fairfax has stopped short of fellow Democrats who have said Northam should step down.
Fairfax says he will take legal action at anyone “attempting to spread this defamatory and false allegation.”
“My family is strong. My faith is incredibly strong. My faith in God is unshaken," Fairfax said. “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.”
Meanwhile, Northam held an “urgent meeting” Sunday night with several members of his cabinet, but has said he’s not stepping down and needs more time to decide on his future.
Without knowing the facts of what happened in 2004, NBC12′s legal analyst Deirdre Condit says the issue must be settled prior to any potential transition of power if Northam were to resign.
"In this day and age, whatever happened in that hotel room that he’s admitted he was in, if there’s a scintilla of a possibility, this is not the time to assert his potential grip on public power. If he’s clear in his heart and head, then no second shoe falls but I still think he then has to prove himself,” she said.
Prove himself because of two factors Condit says will weigh on many voters’ minds.
"He didn’t earn it through the electoral system. He didn’t put his platform out and have people pick him apart on it…So he has to earn it right away and he earns it honestly as a black man - which for big chunks...of Virginia is a bar he has to meet still. I think if he steps in and does the job and does it well and with integrity, I actually think he has the potential to be the leader of the Democratic party, to move the state forward,” Condit added.
Condit said if Fairfax becomes governor, he could make history by serving for seven years - potentially finishing Northam’s term and then running again since he technically never ran for governor, which she says would allow him to bypass Virginia’s one term limit.