Fairfax Defends ‘Consensual Encounter’ With Woman Alleging Assault

Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax / Facebook

Virginia's embattled lieutenant governor offered another statement Wednesday in an effort to defend himself against an accusation he sexually assaulted a woman in 2004.

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D., Va.) maintained that the furor is over a "consensual encounter."

In the story late Sunday night, Big League Politics reported an allegation that Fairfax, then a John Kerry staffer, assaulted a woman at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Fairfax, at 3 a.m. Monday, tweeted a statement from his office denying he "has never assaulted anyone … in any way, shape, or form." On Wednesday, he expanded on his innocence."I have nothing to hide," he said. He called for the public to "treat both the woman who made this allegation and my family with respect for how painful this situation can be for everyone involved."

 

Fairfax presented himself as a supporter of victims, though he denied the woman in question was one. He stressed he did not seek to "diminish her voice. But I cannot agree with a description of events that I know is not true."

According to NBC's Kasie Hunt, sources reported Fairfax was less supportive of women's voices during a private team meeting Monday.

Fairfax's office threatened legal action on Monday in response to the allegation, calling the story "part of the sad and dark politics" he vowed to oppose. His office said the Washington Post previously investigated the allegation and declined to publish it because of "facts consistent with the Lt. Governor's denial of the allegation, the absence of any evidence corroborating the allegations, and significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegation."

The Post subsequently denied there were red flags, but confirmed it had spoken with Fairfax and decided at the time not to run the story.

The turmoil surrounding Fairfax comes on the heels of calls for Gov. Ralph Northam (D., Va.) to step down. Northam came under fire last Friday from both Democrats and Republicans after one of his medical school classmates shared a copy of Northam's yearbook page. It featured a picture of one man costumed in blackface and another in a Klansman's hood.

The photograph prompted a cascade of Democrats and Republicans to call for his resignation. Former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder (D.), the nation's first black governor, was among those who called for Northam to resign.

In the event Northam were to resign, Fairfax would become governor.

Fairfax gave no indication he intended to step down. "I look forward to continuing my work to unify the Commonwealth," he said.

However, should both Northam and Fairfax step down, Mark Herring (D.), Virginia's attorney general, would become governor. On Wednesday, Herring released a statement admitting to dressing up as a black rapper while he was an undergraduate student. He said that he and college classmates "dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup."