Northam calls Lt. Gov. Fairfax; congressmen react to scandal
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax says he spoke with Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday morning as both men are shrouded in controversy.
Fairfax is dealing with the fallout of a sexual assault allegation from 2004 while Northam has rebuffed calls for his resignation following a photo of a person in blackface surfacing from his 1984 yearbook page.
Fairfax confirmed he received a call from Northam on the way to the Senate, but what the two men was discussed remains a mystery.
That conversation comes following Fairfax’s accuser, Dr. Vanessa Tyson, releasing a statement Wednesday detailing what she claims happened in his hotel room in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. She states consensual kissing turned into sexual assault when he forcefully made her perform a sex act.
Thursday, two Congressmen broke their silence regarding the Fairfax scandal.
Virginia 3rd District Representative Bobby Scott told reporters he knows Tyson but said she did not tell him the details.
"It's her story to tell,” he told reporters. “It's her story to tell. I don't have permission.”
When asked if Scott knew about the accusations against Fairfax he said, “She did not tell me. She told me she’d reported it to the Washington Post. I don’t know what the facts are. I know what you know.”
Scott added he has not talked to Tyson recently.
Rep. Donald McEachin who represents Virginia’s 4th Congressional District, told CNN there should be a hearing and probe of the Fairfax allegation.
“I think Justin has handled the situation poorly,” McEachin said. “One of the curses of being an African-American man in the United States is you don’t get to play the angry black man."
“It’s been a very tough week to say the least, obviously,” said Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax Co.).
House minority leader Eileen Filler-Corn spoke briefly to reporters about the events from the past few days.
Filler-Corn said she and her fellow colleagues are focused on the job at hand, which includes looking at the state budget.
“We’re here to go our job,” Filler-Corn said. “We’re here to govern, legislate. We’re here to represent our 80,000 constituents.”
Thursday evening the Virginia Black Caucus released a statement referencing in part the “troubling” allegations against Fairfax.
“Sexual assault is a very serious offense, and we believe that all allegations of sexual assault must be fully and thoroughly investigated by the appropriate agencies,” the statement reads. “We believe that victims deserve to have their claims taken seriously. And we believe that anyone accused of such a grievous act must receive the due process prescribed by the Constitution.”
The Black Caucus said it would support and expects justice to be handed out fairly in this situation.
“[We] will continue to monitor it closely and act accordingly,” the statement reads.
ALLEGED VICTIM RELEASES STATEMENT
Wednesday afternoon Dr. Vanessa Tyson released a statement of her own through a law firm she consulted.
The statement graphically describes the allegation as Fairfax forcing the woman to “perform oral sex on him."
“What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault,” the statement said. “Utterly shocked and terrified, I tried to move my head away, but could not because his hand was holding down my neck and he was much stronger than me. As I cried and gagged, Mr. Fairfax forced me to perform oral sex on him.”
Tyson said the assault caused her “both deep humiliation and shame.”
Fairfax strongly denied the allegation Monday after it was circulated on a conservative website before the explicitly details were released.
On Wednesday, Fairfax issued a statement saying it is important to listen to women while still denying the accusation against him.
“While this allegation has been both surprising and hurtful, I also recognize that no one makes charges of this kind lightly, and I take it and this situation very seriously,” Fairfax said in the statement. “This has been an emotional couple of days for me and my family. And in my remarks on Monday, I think you could hear how emotional dealing with an allegation that I know is not true has been for me.”
The statement describes the encounter with accuser as consensual and says, “She in no way indicated that anything that had happened between us made her uncomfortable.”
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