RICHMOND, VA (WWBT/AP) - Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax’s accuser, Dr. Vanessa Tyson, is set to meet with Boston prosecutors to discuss her allegations of sexual assault, her attorneys said in a release Wednesday.
Tyson claims she was sexually assaulted by Fairfax in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts.
“Earlier today, Lt. Governor Fairfax’s spokeswoman issued a shocking threat, as reported by The Boston Globe, that Lt. Governor Fairfax would initiate criminal charges against Dr. Tyson is she pressed charges against him for sexually assaulting her in 2004,” said Tyson’s attorney. “This is a clear effort to obstruct justice. Dr. Tyson will not be bullied, and she will not be silenced by such threats.
Since Tyson’s accusation, Fairfax has denied the sexual assault, but added it’s important to list to women coming forward with allegations.
“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.”
Wednesday, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said the prosecutor had sent a letter to the law firm representing Tyson, pledging to provide a safe and supportive environment if she wants to discuss the matter with law enforcement.
“What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault,” a statement from Tyson’s law firm said last week. “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.”
Tyson said she first came forward and told friends about the incident in 2017 when Fairfax was running for lieutenant governor.
Wednesday evening a spokesman for House Speaker Kirk Cox said he is not ruling out an investigation into these allegations at this time.
“He believes we need to consider where we are and move forward in a deliberate and bipartisan manner,” said spokesman Parker Slaybaugh.
Also on Wednesday, Central Virginia African American Civil Rights Leaders, pastors and community activists called on “due process” for the allegations surrounding Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.
“[We are calling on] fairness and due process regarding allegation against Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax,” the groups stated.
The speakers at a Wednesday afternoon news conference included attorney Phillip Thompson, Rev. Dr. Earl Brown, Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Harris and community activities Lynetta Thompson, Jeanetta Lee and Marty Jewell.
They said demands for Fairfax’s resignation are being hastily made.
"The current situation is nothing but an abuse of power against both Mr. Fairfax and the people who voted for him,” said Lynetta Thompson, a member of the state NAACP. “Particularly African American voters."
“It unfolds every day,” said Marty Jewell, a community activist and former Richmond City councilman. “This is way too soon to conclude anything.”
The news conference comes one day after Fairfax’s first accuser, Dr. Vanessa Tyson, spoke on a panel regarding the “#MeToo” movement.
"There's a current theme at least recently when women come forward, this deliberate attempt to try and undermine someone's credibility," she said.
The group of men and women said they’re not trying to belittle Fairfax’s accusers, but went on to question why these women, Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson, are only coming forward now.
“There are indications out there that rivals may have a hand in this,” Jewell said. “We don’t know.”
Jewell also questioned why now, but seems to contradict himself when answering a question about sexual assault victims being nervous to come forward.
“In today’s Me Too era they have no reason not come forward,” he said. “But back then they did. They did, and I understand that because women were not taken seriously.”
The group of civil rights leaders, pastors, and community activists also brought up instances in the past where allegations turned tragic.
“There are increasing numbers of African American women who take offense to how Mr. Fairfax is being treated because of what it reflects of the history of such treatment of our fathers, brothers, sons," Thompson said.
"Black men being hung, being shot based on pure allegations," Jewell added.
The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP has not made a statement in reference to the allegations against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.