Victim advocate says supporting Fairfax accuser doesn’t mean assuming guilt

Advocates say supporting Fairfax accuser does not mean assuming guilt

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The future of Virginia’s lieutenant governor remains in limbo as he fights an allegation he sexually assaulted a woman in 2004.

Thursday, a group of lawmakers said allegations like this one “rips open wounds” for sexual assault survivors and that now is the time to empathize while searching for the truth. Advocates against sexual assault are weighing in on the controversy.

"The allegation is completely false,” Fairfax has said.

It’s a story he maintains as his accuser Dr. Vanessa Tyson comes forward with her version of events. Her allegation is that after a consensual kiss, Fairfax forcefully lowered her head to his private parts inside his hotel room.

"I support her because it’s hard to come out with your story in that journey,” Timika Cousins, with Faces Behind a Purpose for You, said.

Cousins advocates against sexual assault through her nonprofit. She says supporting the alleged victim doesn't mean rushing to judgement.

“I cannot make any personal allegations against anyone,” Cousins said. “I can’t say whether he’s guilty or not guilty.”

But during the age of the #MeToo movement, Cousins says women’s stories must be heard and taken seriously during the search for truth.

The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus issued a statement Thursday saying the allegation should not be dismissed.

"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 group said in part.

Justin Fairfax
Justin Fairfax

Cousins said the truth needs to be uncovered and punishment handed out, if necessary.

“I’m not saying if he did do it to just brush it under the rug because he’s a politician. I’m saying everyone needs to be held accountable for their actions,” Cousins said. “If it’s fabricated then I will say she will be held accountable for her actions.”

Fairfax called the allegation a “smear” and said he would continue to handle it.

“We will not only deal with this smear as we’ve dealt with so many other attacks over time,” Fairfax said. “We’ve always, when we’ve been attacked, been elevated.”

Tyson alleges the activity happened in Boston during the Democratic National Convention. Police in Boston said they can’t confirm or deny an investigation due to the nature of the alleged crime.

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